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Reusable is better than disposable – when it’s done right

Surgical drapes and gowns play an important role in keeping the risks associated with surgery to a minimum, preventing infection, and guaranteeing a sterile environment. Most hospitals today use disposable products in this area, as in many others, but a recent innovation from KaihlaSet and available through BioFemma shows that reusable could be the smarter way to go.

An expert in personal protection, highhygiene fabrics, and heating, plumbing, and ventilation technology, KaihlaSet recently puts its expertise to use in a project aimed at developing new-generation products, services, processes, and concepts for hygiene-critical applications in hospitals and other health care areas.

Working with a variety of partners – including a number of hospitals – Kaihlaset focused on a reusable, multipurpose material primarily for use in operating theatres, together with the service processes needed to ensure its long-term viability in the field.

Ideal for a range of uses

The fabrics used in hospital operating theatres need not only to be sterile and highly absorbent, they must also be impermeable where needed and cost-effective. As a result, the trend today has overwhelmingly been towards disposable products, despite the various benefits that reusability can offer, and not only in ecological terms.

The new products are ideal not only for operating theatres, but also for other areas that call for particularly high standards of hygiene.
Using a combination of laser and ultrasound techniques, KaihlaSet has succeeded in producing a nonwoven solution that can be used up to 100 times before needing to be replaced. It also offers excellent performance, thanks to separate absorbent and impermeable areas, and minimal build-up of lint, together with a very small footprint in terms of dust particles released into the ambient atmosphere. Various antimicrobial properties have also been built into the fabric.

The result is a product that is ideal not only for operating theatres, but also for other areas that call for particularly high standards of hygiene, such as dialysis and burns units and wards for patients with highly infectious diseases.

A range of products based on this new technology is now available from BioFemma.

Capable of eliminating literally tonnes of hospital waste

By avoiding traditional sewing techniques, Kaihla- Set and BioFemma have been able to provide a greater degree of customisation and design flexibility and benefit from lower costs as well. Flexibility was also a priority in designing the product’s service concept, which works equally well with both in-house and outsourced services.

The advantages of the new KaihlaSet/ BioFemma product line have been thoroughly tested in hospital use, as well as in laboratory tests, which concentrated on things such as making the most of low washing temperatures. The result is a range of multiple-use products that fully complies with the latest EN 13795 standard for surgical drapes and gowns.

Replacing today’s disposable products with the new solution and adopting the optimised care process that has been developed for laundering and sterilisation have the potential to eliminate literally tonnes of hospital waste annually, generate new jobs in laundries, and give health care professionals a better product.

Similar ecological benefits are also provided by the new reusable clothing concept for operating theatres designed by KailhlaSet as part of a parallel project under the same high-tech hospital of the future initiative.

> Maarit Kaihlanen
(Published in HighTech Finland 2013)