Only this past June, a study conducted by Bristol University (UK) and presented to the Institute of Physics found that (single layer) disposable plastic aprons worn by hospital nurses attract high levels of bacteria because they carry a large electrostatic charge.
Tests showed that the aprons attract 82.6% more bacteria when in use then when they are not carrying a static charge. Thus, when a nurse stands near a patient, the strength of the electrostatic charge is sufficient to cause an opposite charge on the patient. This will then cause the patient to attract a higher level of bacteria.
Each year there are approximately 100,000 hospital-acquired infections in the UK alone.
Now comes word that a new type of apron may help cut the number of infections. The “multi-layered” apron is “like an onion, so you pull off the top layer and are left with layers underneath” according to its inventor, Dr. Kuldeep Bangal, a London Trauma Surgeon.
The 10-layer apron would not require time-consuming changes between patients. It would also be thin enough so that it would not restrict the wearer’s motion.
The invention has been patented and is one of this year’s entries into the competition for the Medical Futures Innovations Awards.
Dr. Bangal believes the new apron will save valuable time (40 seconds per change). This can be critical in emergencies and in intensive care units where nurses and doctors must move quickly between critically ill or injured patients. The time savings would be about 5 minutes for every 10 patients. Problems associated with finding apron dispensers and/or seeking supplies of new aprons when a dispenser is empty would also be avoided.
More important, however, is the new apron’s ability to promote compliance with sanitary regulations which are sometimes compromised in emergency situations or by staff who are looking to save time. Availability and ease of use will ensure compliance and bring infection rates down according to Dr. Bangal.