An experiment by an Australian medical charity has shown that using a new technology to clean up hospital wards can actually save lives.
Dr Paul Llewellyn, who is leading the work with the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, says it can be done with a fraction of the resources that conventional hygiene systems use.
“We’ve been using these kind of technologies for over 40 years and they’ve saved us billions of dollars,” he told Al Jazeera.
“If we can improve this to the point where we can actually do it in a fraction, we can save a lot of lives.”
When you use a disinfectant, you’re going to have to rinse your hands and wipe down the walls.
“Dr Llewelyn says there are a lot more health workers and hospitals in Australia than there are people on the street.”
What we have in Australia is one of the largest and most sophisticated health services in the world.
We have hospitals that can handle about 400,000 patients at any given time,” he said.”
And there are only about 30,000 doctors in the country.
“But the real issue with conventional hygiene, as Dr Llewyn says, is that it is expensive.”
This is not a new concept.
This has been done in Australia for 50 years.
It’s been done for hospitals in Europe and other countries,” he added.”
It is costing us billions and billions of pounds per year.
“The research, which was presented at the American Society for Microbiology conference in Boston, Massachusetts, has been described as a “gold standard” of new medical technologies, but it has yet to be proven in Australia.
Dr Llwelyn and his team are using a type of bacteriophage to wipe down surfaces and make the bacteria easier to handle.”
Our idea is to put the bacteriostatic bacteria on the walls of the room where the infection is occurring and then, once the infection has occurred, the bacteriovirus will infect the surfaces,” he explained.”
That way, you don’t have to wipe the whole room down, just the walls that have become infected.
“But it’s not just the cost of the technology that worries Dr Llwyn.
The technology has also been criticised by the American Medical Association, which said it was not clear if it was safe and effective for humans.”
There’s no evidence that these kinds of new, innovative technologies are going to be safe for humans, and therefore should be discarded or not,” Dr Llenow told AlJazeera.”
I don’t think there’s any evidence that this is a safe technology to use.
“However, Dr Lledwyn says he is confident that it will be possible to do this.”
You have to be able to use these kinds a lot, and if you can, we’re really confident we’ll be able do it,” he stated.”
But you also need to have the resources and the time, and we’ll need the funding.
“He said he is working on a patent for the technology and hopes to have it out by 2021.