U.K. Hospital Trialling Cleaning Solution That’s ‘Better Than Bleach’

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A new cleaning solution clean can hospitals better than traditional products, U.K. researchers say.

The product – Pathisol – can disinfect a surface in two minutes, which is five times faster than bleach. It can also kill 99.99% of pathogens, including hospital superbug Clostridium difficile.

A team of researchers at Teeside University have been running an independent trial of the new product at North Tees and Hartlepool Foundation Trust in northern England.

Developed by hospital subsidiary NTH Solutions, it contains a chemical called “hypochlorous acid”, which is already used widely in the US.

“We know hypochlorous acid works from studies done in the U.S., but there isn’t yet clear evidence that it is effective in an acute clinical environment such as an NHS hospital,” NTH Solutions’ Educational and Development lead Dan Sullivan told Forbes.

“Our study aims to provide that evidence through a robust, independent trial set in live clinical environments.”

Lead nurse at North Tees and Hartlepool Rebecca Denton Smith added: “Pathisol is a natural product. It’s known as hypochlorous acid, and it’s found in our bodies.

“It’s our natural first-line defence against infection. It can be easily made, easily applied and, most importantly of all, it kills a wide range of pathogens.”

As well as being safer, cheaper to make and less harmful to the environment than bleach, the firm says Pathisol can be made onsite at hospitals, which may reduce the need for plastic bottles.

The trial, which has three phases, is still underway, with earlier research efforts delayed by the pandemic. But it’s already showing positive results.

During the first phase, researchers swab random locations across three hospital wards, before sending samples for testing at the hospital’s microbiology lab.

There, they are left for 24 hours to see what colonies grow. This gives researchers a baseline understanding of the pathogens that live in each ward when they’re cleaned as normal.

In the second phase, the normal cleaning solution is swapped for Pathisol.

In the third, researchers are trying a new method of applying hypochlorous acid: spraying it on to surfaces with hand-held electrostatic devices.

Swabs from each phase of the trial are compared with previous results to work out how effective the new solution is.

So far, results have been positive, both for Pathisol and the new application method.

Dan Sullivan said: “We are awaiting independent verification of the data, but early indications are that Pathisol has successfully reduced microbial load across the trial areas with an enhanced reduction when electrostatic technology was applied.”

Teeside University plans to publish the data in due course.

The firm’s environmental and decontamination services manager Tony Sullivan said these promising results could translate into tangible benefits for hospitals.

He said: “Pathisol can take up to 2 minutes to disinfect a surface, whereas bleach can take up to 10 minutes. In National Health Service terms, that means we can turn a bed around 5 times faster by using [the product] to disinfect, and we can deep clean a ward without having to evacuate it for 24 hours.”

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