As a patient, when you visit a hospital or medical facility, it is not unreasonable to have trust in the professionals, equipment and infrastructure used. The same can be said for medical personnel who trust the materials and equipment allow them to provide patients with the best care possible.
However, most individuals do not even consider the risk implications associated with the materials used in healthcare settings. In fact, research conducted in 2016 revealed that staple equipment such as the coveted white coat, synonymous with physicians, was often easily contaminated with various bacteria. Such discoveries have since prompted a greater investment in medical-grade fabrics with antimicrobial properties to prevent the spread of germs, in industries where hygiene and infection control is paramount.
What are medical textiles?
Medical fabrics (sometimes referred to as healthcare textiles or biomedical textiles) are a branch of technical fabrics, in which function is favoured over aesthetics. These fabrics are used to provide medical benefits and are used for hygiene, health and private care purposes as well as for implantable or extracorporeal devices. However, in the medical industry, even the slightest variation in such materials can have a major impact on clinical outcomes. Therefore, the implementation of high-quality medical-grade fabric is imperative for effective treatments.
For example, at Biomed, we specialise in patented medical-grade fabrics that are used to manufacture CPAP masks and headgear for sleep apnea sufferers. The use of standard, non-medical grade materials in these devices could greatly hinder treatment and dramatically affect the usability of the device. CPAP masks (used to aid breathing) can cause the skin to secrete acids, oils and bacteria, which can lead to infections, irritation and blisters. Meanwhile, CPAP hoses are constantly exposed to warm and moist environments, creating a high risk for bacterial growth. As the respiratory system is highly sensitive to airborne contaminants, the use of medical-grade and antibacterial fabrics to create such CPAP supplies aids the patient by preventing harmful diseases and even increases the product’s longevity.
Additionally, medical-grade, antibacterial and hypoallergenic fabrics can also be used to create surgical wear, dressings, bandages, artificial ligaments and even nappies.
What are other applications of medical-grade fabrics?
Antibacterial and medical-grade textiles can also provide great benefit beyond the medical industry. As humans, we already have thousands of microbes within our bodies. In fact, it is alleged that the ratio of microbes to human cells is greatly outnumbered, 10:1. While not all microbes are bad and will result in illnesses, the growth of bacteria doubles every 20-30 minutes in ideal conditions. This means that just one single bacteria cell can multiply to over 1 million in just 7 hours. Therefore, antibacterial fabrics play a great role in preventing diseases in everyday life and can be utilised in a variety of industries where moist environments and microbes have the potential to meet.
For example, the sporting industry greatly benefits from the use of medical-grade materials with antibacterial properties. While antibacterial materials can result in odour free sporting apparel or sporting headgear, it will also prevent the spread of germs, particularly if apparel is shared among team members.
Meanwhile, ventilation and air conditioning can also greatly benefit from the implementation of antibacterial agents. Air conditioning units have been known to contribute to the circulation of germs and micro-organisms and have even been linked to the spread of airborne illnesses such as Legionnaire’s disease. Along with regular cleaning and maintenance of the air conditioner unit, antibacterial materials can help prevent microbes from growing further or killing the microbes altogether. Similarly, food packaging may also benefit from medical-grade and antibacterial fibres to prevent the consumption and growth of harmful bacteria.
For more information on how medical-grade fabrics can help fight the spread of germs or to see how our team could help you manufacture medical-grade products, please do not hesitate to contact the professional Biomed team on (02) 9758 3855.