Enzymes for medical cleaning

The burden of healthcare acquired infections (HAI) can be reduced by effective cleaning of clinical soils in healthcare environments. Enzymes in your medical detergent can help.

The global burden of HAIs

According to the WHO, the results of HAI include longer hospital stays, long-term disability and high costs for patients and their families. HAI also place a significant financial burden on healthcare systems around the world. In the US alone, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate the overall annual direct financial costs of HAI to hospitals at between $28bn and $45bn, and the cost in lives at around 72,000 per year. Effective cleaning of healthcare environments and surgical instruments is a critical part of preventing HAI.

Enzymes for enhanced safety

In healthcare settings, clinical soils are commonly found embedded deeply into hinges, textured surfaces and hard-to-reach parts of reusable medical devices. Enzymatic detergents that specifically target clinical soils have been in use for decades and a number of studies have investigated their performance in medical device cleaning. One demonstrated their improved performance in comparison with non-enzymatics, while another demonstrated that they have an advantage over alkaline cleaners. They can enhance cleaning and safety in multiple healthcare applications; from bedside pre-cleaning to automatic washing in a hospital’s sterile processing department.

Proteases at work – see a clinical soil disappear

Protein-rich matter like blood is frequently found in clinical soils. Protein consists of long chains of amino acids that are linked together, which is why they’re so tough for detergents to remove. Protease enzymes attack the protein in clinical soils by breaking protein molecules down into shorter chains of amino acids that are easier for medical detergents to remove.

How enzymes work in medical cleaning

Enzymes are biomolecules that speed up reactions. Renewable and biodegradable, they are a more sustainable choice than harsh chemicals. Enzymes in cleaning solutions bind with soils and break them down into smaller pieces, making them easier to remove. Enzymes are catalysts, which means they can do the same job again and again. They don’t get ‘used up’ during the cleaning process. However, enzymes only work in moist conditions, so once the medical device dries, the cleaning process will stop. Various enzymes specifically target the various types of organic matter commonly found in clinical soils. Proteases target protein-rich matter like blood, while lipases target fatty matter like adipose tissue. Amylases and cellulases target the starch and cellulosic polymers found in waste such as feces.

Advanced technology for more effective cleaning

Though enzymes have long been used in medical device cleaning, advancements in enzymatic technology have led to new, improved molecules that deliver even more effective cleaning of clinical soils.

New improved molecules deliver even more effective cleaning of clinical soils.

A recent study into optimized enzymatic detergents demonstrated an improvement on “industry standard” cleaning guidelines. This can improve rewash rates, decrease hospitals’ costs and levels of waste, as well as improving patient outcomes.

Fast facts

Dose matters

Medical detergents need the right enzyme dose to be effective at the speed needed in medical cleaning.

Safe for equipment

The enzymes in medical detergents only target clinical soils, making their effective cleaning gentle on equipment.

An optimum range

Enzymes work best within specific temperature and pH ranges, so it’s important to choose the right enzyme for the job.

Take a closer look at optimized enzymatic detergents

A recent study established that cleaning medical instruments with detergents containing optimal dose and type of enzymes leads to better outcomes. The study was presented in a poster at the AORN Global Surgical Conference & Expo 2019.

Download the poster
The poster covers:
  • The financial impacts of inadequate cleaning
  • What enzymes are, and why they’re used in medical cleaning
  • Visual proof of the performance of optimized enzymatic detergents

Fact or Myth?

Learn the truth behind the most common misconceptions about using enyzmes in medical detergent.

Read the article