Each year in the UK at least 50 million heavily contaminated surgical instruments have to be pre- cleaned by staff, who wear full PPE to scrub the instruments by hand in sinks. This uses 7.5 million gallons of hot water and 178,000 gallons of chemical detergents.
Until now, scrubbing the instruments by hand was the only real option because some contaminants are very difficult to remove.
It’s a significant world-wide problem, in the UK alone it costs the health sector 1.3 million KWH of energy to heat the water which generates 270 tonnes of CO2 every year.
Rewash rates at some sterile services depatments average 4.6 percent, if replicated across Scotland would equate to rewashing 3.5 million instruments annually.
Our prototype system uses cold water only, no chemical detergents and would replace the use of sinks for the majority of pre-cleaning. In addition, our tests indicate that the units could cut the length of the Washer/ Disinfector wash cycle times by half providing a further reduction in CO2 generation.
In terms of circularity, approximately 40% of all surgical instruments purchased are single use. These instruments are predominantly made from surgical stainless steel and advanced polymers. After one use they are treated as hazardous waste, incinerated and sent to landfill.
Single use devices are increasingly being adopted on the basis of infection control. Research suggests that current cleaning systems are an issue; "Apparently, the well- known autoclave cleaning and disinfection process has not evolved in parallel to medical device technology". Sklar Research.
Our system aims to transform cleaning outcomes, reduce the need for single use devices and dramatically reduce CO2 emissions. Research figures show that the life cycle analysis of an average single use instrument consumes a minimum of 1kg CO2, whereas a resuable instrument approximately 0.6KG Co2.