Scientists at The University of Manchester, along with healthcare product manufacturer Brimaid, have unveiled a new product which aims to aid hospitals in the fight against MRSA. The BioKab is a bedside cabinet which has been specifically designed to reduce the spread and infection of harmful bacteria in hospital wards.
The cabinet is made from a polyethylene plastic impregnated with an antibacterial agent proven to kill the MRSA bug. The cabinet’s soft-edge radiused-corner design and its light weight also means it is easy for hospital staff to keep clean and move, further preventing the harbouring of bacteria.
Professor Stephen Bush, Director of The University of Manchester’s Centre for Manufacture, who led the design and production team for the cabinet with Nigel Ball of Ergo Design, said: “As well as direct human contact, MRSA can be passed indirectly to patients via bacteria resting on the surfaces of hospital equipment and furniture contained in wards. However, with the BioKab’s specially impregnated surface this cross-contamination is eliminated and germs will not survive.”
The BioKab body and surfaces are impregnated at the manufacturing stage with Irgaguard, an inorganic antimicrobial. It works by breaking down and destroying cells of bacteria which come into contact with the cabinet. Silver ion, which is the active ingredient in Irgaguard, is absorbed by the germ and works by interfering with the cell membrane causing the cells to leak and eventually break up. Silver ion also binds to the DNA of the cell disrupting the replication process. It does not degrade with time and is temperature-stable to well over 500 degrees C.
The Biokab’s plastic structure has been shown to kill MRSA, E Coli, Salmonella and many other harmful bacteria which come into contact with its surface.
Measuring just over 89cm by 48cm, the BioKab is moulded in one piece, excluding the simply detachable doors. This feature increases cleanliness by eliminating the crevices and corners in which bacteria can thrive and allows effective steam cleaning. The BioKab also incorporates a magazine shelf, lockable drawer and a number of gently radiused recesses to hold items such as drinking cups and utensils.
All parts of the 12kg cabinet – the body, doors and drawer – are, in fact, hollow cavities, which minimises both material usage and weight.
“The potential for the use of plastics like the ones we have used to create the BioKab in hospital wards to aid in the prevention of the spread and infection of harmful bacteria like MRSA is very promising. Combine this with our soft-edge radiused-corner design and this product sets a new standard for the design and manufacture of future healthcare furniture,” said Professor Bush.