During the virtual.MEDICA 2020, Dr. Sebastian Buhl’s lecture highlighted the hygienic design of medical devices at the MEDICA TECH FORUM. In this MEDICA-tradefair.com interview, he describes the aspects of this design and reveals how it can be implemented.
What exactly is "hygienic design" as it pertains to medical devices?
Dr. Sebastian Buhl: Hygienic design of medical devices essentially means that they are easier to clean or the risk of contamination is reduced. There is an emphasis on material choices and constructive design details and solutions. The material should be suited for surface treatments and preferably also be resistant to commonly used disinfectants.
Since there are no specifications for medical devices, detailed solutions usually adopt other standards such as food safety and hygiene standards. It is important to avoid problems such as sharp edges, cracks, and crevices. To assist in this endeavor, we are currently collaborating with a VDI task force on a sanity and hygienic design guide for these types of surfaces.
Which medical devices benefit the most from hygienic design?
Buhl: This design is critical wherever surface hygiene is crucial and clinically relevant pathogens often persist, subsequently creating a greater risk of contamination for patients or staff members. However, it is sometimes difficult to assess "hygienic relevance". Apart from the surface itself, the surface environment also plays an important role. A surface in a patient room on a general ward requires a different type of assessment than a surface in an intensive care or burn unit.
We are also collaborating with VDI to provide support in performing a standardized assessment or classification of hygienic relevance in our guidelines. In general, a hygienically optimized design is paramount for all medical devices that are at risk of infectious disease spread and consequently an increased risk of infection for patients or employees.