Walk into any hospital emergency room and one might immediately worry about being exposed to germs and illnesses. It’s a very real problem, as nearly 100,000 people die of nosocomial infections (illnesses contracted while receiving care for a different issue) every year.
There are a number of areas in a hospital where the average patient never sets foot. It’s the behind the scenes areas where contamination and the spread of illness need to be eliminated completely. Operating rooms are famously sterile environments. Hospital labs, infectious disease wards, and compounding pharmacies need to be absolutely sterile as well, otherwise, patient safety is put at extreme risk.
Here are four features that every medical computer used in these environments must have to ensure a sterile environment.
The Medical Computer Should be Antimicrobial
This might seem like a no-brainer, but a lot of hospitals still use commercial grade computers throughout their facilities. But the threat of the spread of infection should make these facilities think twice when it comes to their sterile rooms. Imagine a lab tech working with a sample, entering data into their computer, and then running a lab test later that day. If bacteria can survive on the computer, it could potentially contaminate every test run until the computer has been disinfected.
Another area of concern would be in infectious disease wards where patients are quarantined. While every precaution is taken before entering the room, a healthcare practitioner could still carry something harmful into the room with them. If the computer becomes a breeding ground for harmful microbes, a healthcare worker could easily transmit that to a patient while recording vitals or checking a patient’s medical records.
Medical grade computers have antimicrobial housings to prevent the spread of harmful bacteria. But even here, not all antimicrobial computers are created equally. Some use a coating applied after the manufacturing process is complete. These coating will inevitably degrade over time. It is important to look for a medical grade computer that has the antimicrobial properties baked directly into the plastic housing to ensure that there is no degradation and patients are protected for the entire life of the computer.
You Need a Fanless Medical Computer
We have had conversations with hospital IT administrators that have admitted that their anesthesiologists have to sit outside of the operating room because their computers weren’t certified to be used in the OR. Why, you ask? Because their computers used a traditional fanned cooling system. This is a particular hazard during surgery, as fans can accumulate dust and microbes and then blow them around once activated. If the patient is on the operating table, the last thing you want is for the computer that is supposed to be keeping them safe to be the source of infection.
Fanless medical computers use lower power consumption components, fewer moving parts, and heat sinks to eliminate the need for a fan. By eliminating the fan, you eliminate the risk of harmful particulates being spread around. In addition, these units tend to have a much longer lifespan. Fans not only tend to be the first component that fails on a lot of computers, but it also is where dust can get inside and damage components. By removing the fan, you remove a major cause for hardware failure, extending the life of the computer.
The Computer Should be IP65 Rated
That unmistakable antiseptic smell that dominates your senses when you walk into a hospital is there for a good reason. Hospitals are constantly being cleaned with harsh disinfecting chemicals to try to prevent the spread of germs as best as they can. That includes equipment. How exactly do you disinfect a commercial grade computer without running the risk of damaging the unit itself? It’s tricky to say the least.
Medical computers are designed to be IP65 rated. This is an international standard that tests whether or not a device is protected from water and dust ingress. You can actually watch a video demonstrating IP65 protection here. If a computer is IP65 rated, that means cleaning staff can spray down computer equipment and clean them without any need to worry about whether or not their unit will get damaged or need repairs. This is an extremely important consideration when it comes to mitigating the risk of nosocomial infections while also protecting your hardware investment.
You Need Multiple Mounting Options
Imagine a compounding pharmacy where IV medication bags are prepared. Table space is at a premium, and a desktop tower with a monitor is going to get in the way more often than not. Even the heat that a traditional tower computer generates could adversely affect a medication if it’s too close to the work area. An anesthesia machine might need to be wheeled from one operating room to the next as needed. The computer running the anesthesia application needs to be just as mobile. Computers mounted in a patient room in an infectious disease ward would probably serve the greatest purpose if it could be pivoted back and forth on a wall mount so information and test results can easily be shared with the patient.
It is important to choose a medical grade computer that is VESA compatible to provide you with a number of mounting options. Whether that be on a mobile medical cart or a wall mount, being able to place your computer wherever you need it, without it getting in the way of workflow, will save time and money in the form of improved productivity.
Patient safety is the primary concern for any hospital or healthcare facility. That extends all the way to the IT hardware you choose. At Cybernet, we design and manufacture a complete line of medical grade computes that have been engineered to meet the specific needs of the healthcare industry. To find out more you can contact us here.