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New study supports everyday use of healthcare worker uniforms

The commentary calls for more safety surveillance and wider use of measures such as active barrier health care worker uniforms.

5th May 2017

Innovation in Textiles
 |  Orlando, FL

Protective, Medical/Hygiene

The commentary co-authored by Leah Binder, President & CEO of The Leapfrog Group, a national non-profit watchdog committed to driving quality, safety, and transparency in the US healthcare system, and Vestagen Founder Ben Favret, presents the findings of the Leapfrog Health Care Worker Safety Work Group. It highlights the link between healthcare worker and patient safety and identifies areas for potential improvement.

“Vestagen welcomed the opportunity to support the work of The Leapfrog Group, a uniquely effective advocate with a track record of promoting improvements in the quality and safety of US healthcare. It is an honour to serve as co-chair of the Leapfrog Partner Advisory Committee and to co-author this commentary,” commented Ben Favret.

Vestex Active Barrier fabric

Vestex Active Barrier fabric is a combination of technologies that addresses the need for continuous-wear, comfortable healthcare worker and patient garments intended to minimise the risks associated with unanticipated exposure to body fluids during routine use, by repelling fluid splatter and spills from the fabric.

Vestex fabric is breathable and it contains an EPA-registered antimicrobial agent shown in controlled conditions in laboratory and hospital settings to inhibit the growth of certain bacteria on the fabric, the manufacturer reports.

“We developed Vestex Active Barrier fabric to produce healthcare worker garments for everyday use that repel fluids, incorporate antimicrobial properties and are breathable and comfortable,” said Ben Favret. “Our goal is to help minimise the risks associated with unanticipated body fluid exposures – a frequent occurrence in many healthcare settings. We will continue to support initiatives to raise awareness of these risks and to promote policies and programmes that reduce their impact.”

Leapfrog commentary

The Leapfrog commentary, Closing the Gap between Health Care Worker and Patient Safety, identifies exposure to blood and body fluids as an important source of risk in hospitals and notes that an estimated 80% of these exposures are unexpected.

In those instances when fluid exposures are anticipated, healthcare workers are encouraged to take precautions and protect themselves with barrier garments or personal protective equipment (PPE). However, relatively low compliance with wearing PPE, improper removal of PPE and outright failure of PPE technology all contribute to greater exposure risk, the paper states.

The paper notes that relatively simple measures, such as everyday use of active barrier worker apparel, can reduce both unanticipated exposures and patient and worker risks, especially when the measures are part of a broad horizontal approach to infection prevention.

In its commentary, the Leapfrog Work Group recommends that measurements of progress in implementing programmes to reduce the risks from fluid exposures be included in voluntary surveillance systems such as the National Healthcare Safety Network and the Exposure Prevention Information Network (EPINet).

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