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The Importance of Enzyme-Based Cleaning Solutions in Healthcare

By Tony Sarraf - Ecolab
Vice President and General Manager LA North


By Tony Sarraf | Vicepresident and General Manager LAN - Wed, 04/27/2022 - 14:00

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Health and what companies are doing to guarantee it is a topical discussion in business circles recently. It acquires a new dimension when it comes to the hospital sector, due to the implications for authorities, businesses, patients, and their families. Maintaining state-of-the-art disinfection and hygiene protocols is an area that allows no margin of error and for which businesses need to consider several factors.

Let’s start from the beginning. Central Equipment and Sterilization (CES) units in hospitals offer critical storage, preparation, disinfection, and distribution services that are key to getting essential tools and surgical instruments to the emergency and operating rooms as well as consulting offices. It is an area with strategic relevance and importance for the entire operation of a hospital.

The areas within a CES are classified as follows: Firstly, a red section is an area where all used instruments are received and hence are contaminated. These go through comprehensive phases of sanitization processes that require appropriate solutions, technologies, and protocols administered by experts. Secondly, a clean or blue zone is where instruments are classified, assembled, and kept. And finally, the green, or sterile, zone, is an area where products are stored and set, ready for use by medical personnel. The cycle then restarts.

It is evident that hygiene and disinfection protocols at a hospital’s CES are a critical and fundamental feature of all facilities dedicated to health services and research, such as laboratories, clinics, and hospitals. To achieve optimal cleaning and sterilization, a series of comprehensive solutions are available from global experts, such as Ecolab, that facilitate the safety and well-being of medical personnel, scientists and patients and prevent illnesses and their dire consequences.

A key solution at hospitals and health clinics across the globe with far-reaching repercussions for cleanliness and disinfection, as well as operating expenses and the environment, are enzymatic detergents or cleaners. These are enzyme-based cleaning solutions that are designed to enhance certain features of cleaning processes, such as odor, stain, grease, and biofilm removal.

As high-tech solutions, enzyme-based cleaning solutions oriented toward achieving sustainability goals at hospitals are environmentally friendly (biodegradable) and help reduce water consumption. Furthermore, enzymatic detergents work as catalysts, eliminating the need for high temperatures for instrument and equipment disinfection, which lowers energy consumption and, consequently, CAPEX costs, which does not occur when using outdated solutions without the help of and advice from global experts.

Only in 2020, the ERCI (Emergency Care Research Institute), an independent not-for-profit organization aiming to improve safety, quality, and cost-effectiveness of care across all healthcare sectors, identified correct cleaning, disinfection and sterilization of devices and instruments as one of the greatest concerns for the health of patients. It is estimated that in the US alone, failure in these processes have an impact on the local economy of up to US$3.3 billion every year.

But how does an enzymatic detergent work and what are its advantages? As mentioned, enzymatic detergents are designed for various cleaning and disinfection processes that require the removal of various types of organic matter, from utensils and equipment through to the degradation of proteins, fats and sugars.

Unlike other types of disinfection products, disinfection and cleanliness experts can benefit from the use of enzymatic detergents as they are safe, do not release harmful gases to the health of those who apply them, and they are biodegradable.

Enzymatic cleanliness products also represent an evolution for the hygiene and cleaning industries as they replace substances, such as ammonia and chlorine, that can be harmful in case of misuse or accidental ingestion, in addition to preventing allergies in people susceptible to these substances, either by direct exposure or contact with surfaces or garments washed with them.

The use of enzymatic detergents is not limited to hospitals; they are also used in the pharmaceutical industry due to their ability to eliminate microscopic films formed on medicines (drugs), harbor several types of bacteria, and can cause various infections.

Approaching a global expert, such as Ecolab, that can procure high-tech solutions, comprehensive guidance as well as world-class technology, helps companies choose the most appropriate solution, as there are a wide variety of enzymes, each with a different purpose. For example, proteases or peptidases, which are useful in cleaning mattresses, pillows, and bedding; or amylases, which are effective enzymes to remove stains caused by carbohydrates.

In sum, having timely information will help to choose the most appropriate solution for each sector. In the case of hospitals, enzymatic detergents contribute enormously to the cleaning and disinfection of sites responsible for something as important as health. This will have benefits in terms of saving resources and reducing costs, which contribute to sustainability, not only from an environmental standpoint but also from a business point of view.

Photo by:   Tony Sarraf

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