1 In 3 Nurse Bags Carry Deadly Superbug MRSA

Lipstick? Check. Wallet? Check. Car keys? Check. Deadly bacteria???

Sometimes, we carry around more than we think in our bags; such is the case for hundreds of mobile clinicians in the UK and around the globe. Studies show that 55% of nurses’ medical bags that have been used to deliver community care – that is, at home medical care – in the UK are never cleaned. A mere 6% are said to be cleaned weekly. And yet, a nurse visits an average of 17 patients a day, the majority being for wound care. Plug all these stats in, and it is not surprising to hear that one third of all medical bags are said to carry the MRSA bug. There doesn’t exist any official cleaning standards for nurses` bags, and as a result, traditional bags are often outdated, unsafe, simple rucksacks made from absorbent material. They’re full of pockets, buttons, zippers, and folds that are difficult to clean and that can serve as perfect housing and free public transit for bacteria, particularly MRSA.

My grandmother, a community nurse in her day and a hand sanitizer-aholic, recounts that even in being conscientious of cleaning her bag regularly it was nearly impossible to get every surface, for all the snaps and crevices prevented thoroughness. She could sterilize until the cows came home, but the deepest corner of the side pocket, or the underside of the zipper, or the crease in the fabric were forever vulnerable to bacteria.

House calls are coming back into style; the World Health Organization estimates 1 billion to be receiving medical care outside hospital settings, mostly because of the high cost and demand otherwise. In lowering the amount written in their chequebooks, people are raising their risk of contracting MRSA to a daunting one in four.

An innovative Dr. David Swann of the University of Huddersfield not only saw the trends and numbers, but saw a solution. He has designed a new bag that I daresay will forever change the face of medical bags around the globe. It is called the 21st century nursing bag. The design sets the bar for cleanliness in that it’s made from non-permeable polypropylene white plastic and has easy-to-clean drawers. It is fastener, zipper, and pocket-free, so there is not a nook or a cranny where bacteria could hide. One of its most functional features is a hard surface that can be detached and transformed into a hygienic work surface. Often nurses are forced to improvise for a surface, using the floor, chairs, and tables. With the 21st century nursing bag in hand, they are never short of a sterile work surface. Dr. Kate Ireland, UK’s National Health Service’s Director of Quality and Professional Services emphasizes the importance of the removable surface, affirming that “The new nursing bag offers the prospect of enhancing quality of care through the provision of an improved treatment space for patients, whatever the patients’ environment.”

Upon trial and rating, the bag was awarded an 80% for functionality, usability, and appearance. For all of us striving students out there, we know an 80% is nothing to be scoffed at. On top of that successful rating, Swann’s ground-breaking sack has been awarded Highly Commended Status in the NHS Innovation Challenge, and the Helen Hamlyn award for Creativity.

“At a time when health services are turning increasingly to care in the community to save money, the 21st century nursing bag is an attempt to inspire a paradigm shift in home healthcare that guarantees patient safety, nurse productivity, and service quality” explains Swann of his creation. He hopes that his bag’s innovative design urges policymakers to revisit the importance of a cleanliness standard for bags around the world. The concept of being vastly more sterile and hygienic is predicted to drastically reduce the risk of MRSA infection in years to come, and thanks go to Dr. Swann.

As soon as January 2013, when the 21st century bag is projected to be available, we can look forward to seeing for ourselves the bag that will squash the bug.


MRSA Bug Found On One Third Of Nurses’ Bags

Redesigning The Medical Bag Could Cut MRSA Worldwide

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One Response to “1 In 3 Nurse Bags Carry Deadly Superbug MRSA”

  1. Pam says:

    Impressively researched and written, Kate. Kudos!

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