While hospital doors are often accompanied by hand sanitiser dispensers, they are recognised as a key weak link in hygiene because of number of times people touch them. But a new device could slash amount of bacteria harboured on hospital doors by more than 90%. The device, known as Surfaceskins, dispenses a small quantity of alcohol gel onto a door pad when it is pushed and disinfects the surface before next person uses the door. The low-cost device was developed at University of Leeds and is made out of three separate non-woven textiles. It is designed to be replaced after 7 days or one thousand pushes, whichever comes soonest. A study into new technology by Journal of Hospital Infection showed Surfaceskins door pads were more effective than standard door plates over 7 days in reducing levels of hospital-acquired infections S aureus, E coli and E faecalis. Mark Wilcox, Professor of Medical Microbiology at University, who led independent evaluation, told ‘Our results suggest that Surfaceskins door pads can help to reduce the contamination of doors by microbes. They offer a new way to reduce the risk of the spread of bacteria and viruses in hospital environments and other settings where frequent contact with doors could undermine hand hygiene.’

Surfaceskins contain a reservoir of alcohol gel and a membrane with tiny valves that dispense gel onto the surface where it is pressed when opening a door, self disinfecting it within seconds. Hospital doors are recognised as a key weak link in hygiene because of number of times people touch them.

It takes just 1 person with dirty hands to pass through a door to put everyone else who follows at risk of cross contamination. According to data published in 2014 by National Institute for Care and Excellence or NICE, 300’000 patients a year in England get hospital-acquired infections. The infections mean increased treatment costs, estimated by NHS England to be around £1 billion ($1,3 bilion) a year and put patients at risk of significant harm.

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