Supporting Sterile Services Departments with quality instruments

The role of Sterile Service Departments (SSDs) is critical to the smooth running of operating theatres across the UK.

The timely decontamination and turnaround of full sets of instruments that are safe to use and perform to their optimum ability is critical to the smooth running of surgical lists.

But unfortunately, too many SSDs and instrument managers are being hampered by underinvestment in quality instruments, leading to a number of significant issues.

Damaged or missing instruments can cause a range of problems, not just for the sterile services department, but also for surgeons and patients:

  • Surgical procedures can be delayed or cancelled.
  • Hospital stays may be extended, aggravating bed-blocking situations.
  • Interoperative instrument breakage can put patients at risk.
  • Inability to effectively decontaminate instruments risks surgical site infections.


A sizeable problem for Sterile Service Departments

An audit carried out by the ABHI on 2020(1) showed that out of 32,000 instruments checked at 48 hospitals, less than 20% were in a good enough condition to be used.

In fact, 31% of the instruments needed to be replaced, 32% needed to be repaired, and 18% had issues with surface finish, including corrosion.

Another report, by Efthymiou and AR Cale(2) in 2022 revealed that surgical equipment failed in 92% of cardiac cases, 80% of which were surgical instruments. The report concluded that there may be as many as 1500 incidents a year of patient harm caused poor quality instruments.


Cheap reusable surgical instruments

There are many makes of resusable surgical instruments that are made from high quality stainless steel, are designed for optimum cleaning and come with warranties lasting decades. However, there is no doubt that the cost of investing in these upfront can be significant.

Budgetary pressures can mean that SSDs and instrument managers are forced to order much cheaper instruments. Unfortunately, these often come with only a one- or two-year warranty They are also made with lower quality stainless steel and have a more rudimentary design. This in turn means that decontamination is more difficult and damage more likely.

High quality instruments in contrast are often designed to optimise performance, decontamination and maintenance, even to the extent that their parts can be taken apart during servicing, allowing them to be restored to their original levels of functionality.


Carbon Footprint Considerations

Investing in good quality instruments also makes sense for the NHS’s plans to attain Net Zero. The NHS Carbon Footprint Plus considers an expanded scope of emissions, covering the products procured from its 80,000 suppliers. Sourcing cheap disposable or reusable instruments from thousands of miles away is not a sustainable approach for the long term.

Short-lived instruments also lead to more waste, not only in terms of instrument disposal, but also as a result of the increased number of manufacturing processes involved in making them.

Of course, having safe and complete instrument sets can be enhanced through consistent auditing, maintenance and training, but sterile services managers and instrument managers can only do so much with the instruments that they are given.

As the ABHI 2020 audit concluded, “Investment in the replacement of aged surgical instrument inventory should be considered as a priority for NHS spending” and “The procurement of surgical instruments should be based on overall quality and value, with the demonstration of strong ethical and resilient supply chains recognised and rewarded in purchasing decisions.”

In this way, we can support our Sterile Service Departments to help ensure that instrument performance and availability is always optimised.


What To Do After Being Exposed to Infected Bodily Fluid

We recently published a guide to safely and effectively cleaning up bodily fluids. This guide largely focused on surfaces and medical devices. But what should you do if you are exposed to infected bodily fluids?

When it comes to infection control, prevention is everything.

Standard Infection Control Precautions and PPE

Follow your Standard Infection Control Precautions (SICPs) and you can significantly reduce the risk of infection in your hospital or healthcare setting.

One precaution is particularly important for reducing the risk of exposure to infected bodily fluids: Wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that provides adequate protection against the risks associated with whatever task you’re undertaking. This means you should consider certain key factors when choosing PPE for every given scenario.

Procedures for Correct PPE Storage and Use

As well as choosing the right PPE for every circumstance, you should also follow certain procedures when it comes to storing, putting on, and taking off PPE:

  • Stick to single-use PPE unless specified by the manufacturer.
  • Store your PPE close to the point of use.
  • Also store it in a clear and dry area until you need to use it.
  • Pay attention to any expiry dates on the packaging.
  • Change your PPE immediately after seeing each patient, and immediately following every task or procedure.
  • Take off the PPE in the correct order, to keep contact with skin to a minimum.
  • Ensure you dispose of used PPE in the correct waste stream.

Dealing With an Exposure Incident

The Health and Safety Executive has guidelines on dealing with, managing, and reporting an exposure incident in the workplace. Their guidelines refer explicitly to incidents involving blood-borne viruses (BBV), but the policies and procedures could apply to exposure to any bodily fluid.

Immediate Response to an Exposure Incident

  • Wash any area exposed to blood or bodily fluids copiously with water – particularly if the eyes or mouth has been exposed.
  • If a puncture wound gets exposed to blood or bodily fluids, the guidance advised that “the wound should be gently encouraged to bleed, but not scrubbed or sucked.” Following this, you should wash the area with soap and water.

Evaluate the Exposure Incident

Consider the following factors to determine the potential for infection transmission:

  • What type of bodily fluid is involved? Different types of bodily fluid carry different infection risks. If the person carries a known infection risk, then you should consider all bodily fluids to be potential vectors for infection.
  • What was exposed to the bodily fluid? Skin is impervious to most viruses, so long as it’s intact. But mucous membranes, such as the eyes and the mouth, are vulnerable to infection transmission.
  • Was the exposure direct or indirect? By direct, we mean the bodily fluid was transmitted directly from the patient to someone else, such as via a cough, a sneeze, or spilled blood. Indirect exposure can come from handling devices or other objects that have been contaminated.
  • Was PPE Involved? See above for some guidelines regarding PPE.
  • What happened next? Were you able to contain the exposure risk? For example, were you able to administer immediate first aid – i.e. thorough washing of the infected area? Were you able to clean and safely dispose of any contaminated objects?

Following Steps Depending on Potential Risk

Having evaluated the incident, and the possible infection risks, you might carry out a number of interventions.

The HSE guidance related to possible BBV infections, so details what sort of infections you should test for, and how often you should test for them.

For how to manage outbreaks of other types of infections, see our guide to the most common hospital acquired infections.

Depending on the type of infection, you may also have to report to certain government agencies following the exposure risk.

Preventing The Spread of Infection in Hospitals and Healthcare Settings

At Cairn Technology, we’ve been helping both NHS and private hospitals prevent and control infections for over 20 years with a number of innovative products and solutions.

For example, we stock a full range of absorbent mats for hospitals, which can effectively trap and contain spillages allowing for safe and clean disposal afterwards. Not only can this help you prevent exposure to bodily fluids, but it can also help reduce the risks of trips, slips, and falls.

We also offer our body fluid spill kit, designed to clear up smaller spills of bodily fluids quickly and safely.

Want to discuss how we can help you control infections in your hospital? Get in touch to talk to one of our friendly experts today.

Navigating the Winter Wave: Understanding and Coping with NHS Winter Bugs

As winter descends upon us, so does the inevitable surge in seasonal illnesses that often lead to increased pressures on healthcare systems, including the NHS.

The annual influx of these illnesses not only puts an immediate strain on the NHS, but also exacerbates the existing NHS backlog, so it is important to try and stem these seasonal crises points as much as possible.

The term “winter bugs” encompasses a range of illnesses, from the common cold to more severe respiratory infections, and the impact on public health can be significant. In this blog post, we will explore the common winter bugs affecting the UK, understand why they peak during the colder months, and discuss strategies for prevention and coping.

Common Winter Bugs

Influenza (Flu): Influenza is a highly contagious respiratory infection caused by the influenza virus. Symptoms include fever, cough, body aches, and fatigue. Winter is the peak season for flu, leading to increased hospital admissions and strain on healthcare resources.

Common Cold: Rhinoviruses are the primary culprits behind the common cold, with symptoms such as a runny nose, sore throat, and sneezing. While colds are prevalent year-round, they tend to spike during the winter months.

Norovirus: Also known as the winter vomiting bug, norovirus causes gastroenteritis, leading to symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea. It spreads easily in crowded places, making it a common culprit for outbreaks in schools, hospitals, and care homes during winter.

Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV): RSV is a common virus that causes respiratory infections, especially in young children and older adults. The virus spreads easily in cold weather and can lead to severe complications like pneumonia.

Why more bugs in Winter?

Several factors contribute to the seasonal increase in of bugs over the Winter months.

During colder months, people spend more time indoors in close proximity, enabling the spread of viruses.

What’s more, viruses, particularly those causing respiratory infections, thrive in cold and dry conditions as cold air can weaken the immune system’s response to infections.

A lack of sunlight exposure during winter can lead to vitamin D deficiency, which is associated with a weakened immune system. Additionally, the holiday season often brings increased stress, inadequate sleep, and poor nutrition—all of which compromise immunity.

Helping our NHS to Cope

There are a number of prevention strategies that people can employ to try and avoid winter bugs and so reduce the number of related hospital admissions. These include:

Vaccination: The most effective way to prevent influenza is through vaccination. Annual flu vaccines are recommended, especially for vulnerable populations such as the elderly, young children, and those with chronic health conditions. You can also ask for a COVID-19 vaccine if you are aged 65 and over, a resident in an elderly care home, aged 6 months and over in a clinical risk group, or if you are frontline health and social care staff.

Hand Hygiene: Regular handwashing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds helps prevent the spread of viruses. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are a convenient alternative when soap is not available.

Respiratory Hygiene: Covering your mouth and nose with a tissue or your elbow when coughing or sneezing helps prevent the spread of respiratory droplets.

Boosting Immunity: Maintain a healthy lifestyle with regular exercise, a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables, and adequate sleep. Consider vitamin D supplements during winter, especially if sunlight exposure is limited.

Stay Informed: Keep abreast of public health advisories and take appropriate precautions. If you experience symptoms, seek medical advice promptly to prevent the spread of illness.


Winter bugs are an annual challenge for the NHS. By understanding the factors contributing to their seasonal surge and adopting preventive measures, individuals can play a crucial role in minimizing the impact on public health. Whether it’s getting vaccinated, practicing good hand hygiene, or taking steps to bolster immunity, proactive measures can go a long way in navigating the winter wave of illnesses.

UK NHS Waiting List Targets – Where Are We?

Following the global pandemic, a number of enforced government lockdowns, and a few other factors, patients across the UK are currently facing long waiting lists for even the most routine of treatments.

In this post we’ll review the NHS waiting list situation across the UK and explore how the government are progressing on their targets to address the issue.

UK NHS Waiting Lists in 2022 – A Brief Review

Nearly a year ago, we assessed the current state of the NHS backlog. Based on British Medical Association figures, there were:

  • Over 6.84 million people waiting for treatment.
  • 7 million patients waiting more than 18 weeks for treatment (the NHS’s self-imposed “maximum waiting time”).
  • Nearly 400,000 patients waiting more than a year for treatment.
  • A median waiting time of around 13.3 weeks for all treatments.

At the same time, the BMA referred to a “hidden backlog” of patients needing care who had not yet found their way into the health system.

Are NHS Waiting Lists Getting Worse?

Unfortunately, all signs indicate that across the UK, NHS waiting lists are getting worse. More recently, we covered how it’s not just waiting lists that are getting longer. UK patients are also facing excessive waits to see ambulances. In one extreme case, an 85 year old woman had to wait a total of 40 hours to get to A&E.

UK NHS Waiting Lists in 2023 – Where Are We Now?

As we’ve seen, in mid-2022 there were around 6.84 million people waiting to start routine hospital treatment in England alone. As of September 2023, it seems the figure for England has risen to 7.68 million people, a further rise from the 7.57 million people who were waiting for treatment in June 2023.

For England, this is the biggest the waiting list has ever been since records began in 2007.

The latest data shows that:

  • 389,952 people in England have been waiting more than 52 weeks to start routine hospital treatment.
  • By the end of July 2023, 7,289 people in England had been waiting more than 19 months to start routine treatment.
  • The proportion of cancer patients who were able to see a specialist within two weeks of urgent referral fell from 80.5% in June 2023, to 77.5% in July. The NHS’s target is 93%.
  • In A&E, 73% of patients are being seen within four hours. The NHS set a standard of 95%, and the government set a “recovery target” of 73%.

In Wales, around 30,000 people have been waiting more than two years for hospital treatment. Scotland and Northern Ireland differ in how they define their waiting lists. But according to The Guardian, the best “broadly equivalent figures” show that around one in nine people in Scotland, and up to 36% of people in Northern Ireland, are waiting for care.

What is the Plan to Reduce UK NHS Waiting Lists?

In June 2023, the government published a 2023 mandate to NHS England. This mandate highlights long waiting lists, and long A&E and ambulance waiting times, as the key challenges currently facing the NHS. As part of the plan to address these issues, the mandate outlines “record funding”, with an investment of an additional £3.3 billion a year in 2023 to 2024 and 2024 to 2025.

This increased funding will, they claim, “enable rapid action to improve emergency, elective, and primary care performance towards pre-pandemic levels.”

The mandate only applies to NHS England. In August 2023, health secretary Steve Barclay invited the Welsh and Scottish governments to discuss how best to tackle the NHS waiting list issue. Official counterparts in Northern Ireland were also invited to the meeting “in the absence of a functioning government”.

The aim is that the four nations can discuss how they might make their data more comparable, and how they might learn from the different approaches taken by NHS England and the devolved health authorities.

Improving Quality and Efficiency in Healthcare Settings

While we cannot help you address long waiting lists in your hospital, we can help you to improve staff safety and well-being, and reduce theatre turnaround times.

Get in touch to talk to one of our experts today.

Green Theatre Checklist Explained – How to Make Your Theatre More Environmentally Friendly

The Intercollegiate Green Theatre Checklist was developed by a number of UK and Ireland surgical colleges. It provides some guidelines for how operating theatres can cut down on their carbon emissions and work towards sustainability in healthcare.

In this post we’ll provide an essential overview of the Green Theatre Checklist, and the guidance it contains.

A Brief Introduction to the Green Theatre Checklist

Studies show that surgery is a carbon intensive process. A single operation is estimated to generate up to 170kgCO2e, which is about the same as driving 450 miles in a petrol car.

The Green Theatre Checklist is divided into four sections:

  • Anaesthetic care
  • Surgery preparation
  • Intraoperative practice
  • Postoperative measures

Each section contains a number of guidelines and policies to support surgical teams in working towards better environmental, social, and economic impacts.

How To Make Operating Theatres More Environmentally Friendly

Below we’ll provide a quick overview of the guidelines contained within each section of the Green Theatre Checklist.

Anaesthetic Care

  • Source anaesthesia from your local area wherever possible.
  • Limit your Nitrous Oxide use to specific cases, and regularly check your equipment for possible leaks.
  • For inhalation anaesthesia, use sevoflurane instead of isoflurane, as it has a lower “global warming potential”.
  • Switch to reusable equipment wherever possible (such as laryngoscopes, underbody heaters, slide sheets, and trays.)
  • Minimise your drug waste. Introduce the policy: “Don’t open it unless you need it.”

Surgery Preparation

  • Switch to reusable textiles wherever possible, including theatre hats, sterile gowns, patient drapes, and trolley covers.
  • Reduce your water and energy consumption. Install automatic or pedal controlled water taps and adopt a “rub not scrub” approach: After your first water scrub of the day, use alcohol rub for all subsequent hand hygiene procedures.
  • Avoid clinically unnecessary interventions, such as the use of antibiotics and catheterisation.

Intraoperative Practice

  • Review and rationalise your surgeon preference lists, your single-use surgical packs, and your instrument sets. In each case, separate the essential vs. the optional, identify the surplus, and only open what you need when you need it.
  • Avoid any unnecessary equipment, again taking the approach: “Don’t open it unless you need it.”
  • Switch to reusable, hybrid, or remanufactured equipment wherever possible.
  • Switch to low carbon alternatives wherever appropriate (e.g., skin sutures instead of clips).

Postoperative Measures

  • Recycle wherever possible or use the lowest carbon appropriate waste streams. Use domestic or recycling waste streams for all packaging and use the non-infectious waste streams unless there’s a clear risk of infection.
  • Encourage active equipment maintenance and aim to repair damaged reusable equipment rather than replacing it.
  • When the theatre’s not in use, turn off all lights, computers, ventilation, and temperature control.

Access the Full Green Theatre Checklist

For more, you can access and download the full Intercollegiate Green Theatre Checklist.

Disclaimer – Infection Control Procedures

Bear in mind that these are just suggestions. They should not override your existing policies and procedures.

For example, working towards a green theatre should not come at the expense of infection prevention and control. Standard Infection Control Precautions and most PPE guidelines stress the importance of using disposable products so as to reduce the chances of cross-infection.

In this way, the Green Theatre Checklist seems to contradict infection control guidelines, as the checklist recommends switching to reusable equipment wherever possible.

As an operating theatre manager, you’ll have to carry out a thorough risk assessment so as to ensure that none of your Green Theatre policies compromise your infection prevention and control measures.

Help for Operating Theatre Managers

At Cairn Technology, we specialise in helping operating theatre managers improve efficiency, surgical outcomes, and staff and patient safety.

Find out more about our products and services for hospitals.

Or why not get in touch to talk to one of our experts today.

What is Clinical Waste and How To Dispose of it Safely?

In this post we’ll list some examples of clinical waste before discussing how you can safely dispose of it. We’ll also explore some solutions for fast and effective clinical waste disposal that may help you improve operational efficiency in your healthcare setting.

What is Clinical Waste?

Clinical waste is any waste that contains infectious, or potentially infectious, compounds derived from either medical treatments or biological research.

Clinical waste might also be referred to as biomedical, healthcare or hospital waste.

Examples of Clinical Waste

  • Discarded sharps. Whether they’re contaminated or not, all discarded sharps are considered medical waste, partly because they can cause injury and/or infection when they’re not properly disposed of. Examples include needles, scalpels, lancets, and any other device that could penetrate the skin.
  • Human or animal tissue. This includes identifiable body parts and organs, body fluids such as blood, and used bandages and dressings.
  • Used medical supplies. This includes any gloves or other items of PPE, whether they’ve been contaminated with body fluids or not.
  • Laboratory waste. Including unwanted microbiological cultures and stocks.
  • General waste from a medical or laboratory setting. Due to the risk of cross-contamination, any other waste that’s recognisably from a medical or laboratory setting should also be considered clinical waste and handled accordingly. Examples include packaging, unused bandages, and infusion kits.

The Risks of Clinical Waste

Many types of clinical waste carry an infection risk. Even if an item does not appear to have any visible signs of soiling, if it was used in a medical or laboratory setting, then it may be harbouring pathogens that are invisible to the naked eye. Coming into contact with clinical waste could therefore encourage the spread of communicable diseases.

Clinical waste can be harmful in other ways, too. For example, whether they’ve been used or not, discarded sharps can seriously injure anyone who comes into contact with them.

How to Safely Dispose of Clinical Waste

To protect the public and the environment, clinical waste must be processed to allow for safe handling and disposal. This usually requires incineration, to destroy any pathogens and sharps in the waste, and to make any source materials unrecognisable. Autoclaves can also be used to sterilise medical waste before it’s safe for disposal.

Clinical waste is usually disposed of in a dedicated environment using specialist equipment. As most healthcare settings and laboratories do not have the space or budget for such measures, clinical waste is usually accumulated onsite before being collected for offsite disposal.

As such, for most medical and laboratory settings, managing clinical waste is usually a case of using the right PPE to handle or clean any waste items or tissue, before disposing of the waste in the appropriate steam.

What are Waste Streams?

A standard infection control precaution is to maintain four separate waste streams, each of which is colour coded. Clinical waste should be disposed of based on the infection risk it carries. It’s classed as orange or light blue if it’s low-risk or “laboratory” waste, or yellow if it carries a high-risk of infection. Healthcare settings should also make use of sharp boxes to safely collect used sharps.

The containers for collecting and transporting clinical waste are usually designed to be as robust as possible, to prevent any tearing, spilling, and contamination. For example, rigid boxes are generally used for sharps.

Effective Clinical Waste Management for Hospitals and Other Healthcare Settings

Safely managing your clinical waste is a critical part of any infection prevention and control strategy. Certain techniques and equipment can make clinical waste management a lot safer and a lot easier, which in turn can improve your hospital’s operational efficiency.

For example, use absorbent mats to capture fluids during surgical procedures, or to contain splashes when you’re scrubbing up. The T-Mat, for example, gels liquids and becomes dry to the touch within minutes. It hygienically binds fluids, allowing for safe, quick, and easy disposal in the appropriate waste steam. Through cutting down on the time you spend cleaning and decontaminating, the T-Mat can significantly improve your turnaround time between procedures.

As well as a range of absorbent mats, we also stock a selection of clinical waste disposal kits. Our range includes the safe, sturdy and dependable Microb-in Lab waste Disposal container case, and specialist Biohazard Spill Kits and Body Fluid Spill Kits.

Get in touch to discuss how we can support you in safe and effective clinical waste management.

Veterinary Clinic Cleaning and Disinfection Protocols

Cleaning protocols and procedures are a vital part of effective infection prevention and control in all healthcare settings. This includes veterinary clinics.

In this post we’ll outline the essential principles of a veterinary clinic cleaning and disinfection protocol.

Please note that this post is just intended to provide a basic introduction to the subject, to give you an overview of what you should include in your veterinary clinic cleaning and disinfection protocol. Also, cleaning protocols are just one of many standard infection control precautions. Read our full guide to standard infection precautions.

Why Do Veterinary Clinics Need Cleaning and Disinfection Protocols?

Infections can spread in any healthcare setting, and veterinary clinics are no exception. Regular and thorough cleaning is a vital part of infection control, as it can remove any pathogens that might linger on surfaces and objects.

Common Healthcare Associated Infections (HAI)

Common healthcare associated infections (HAI) include:

  • Surgical site infections.
  • Clostridium difficile.
  • Colds, Flus, and Covid-19.
  • Veterinary specific infections, including peritonitis and calicivirus.

Read our full guide to healthcare associated infections.

How HAIs Spread

These infections spread in a number of ways. Some can spread as a result of treatments. Others are communicable diseases, which can be spread from person-to-person, or through indirect contact with surfaces and objects containing pathogens.

In veterinary settings, as well as spreading from person-to-person, infections can also spread from person-to-animal, from animal-to-person, and from animal-to-animal.

Veterinary Clinic Cleaning and Disinfection Protocols – Essential Principles

To begin with, make sure that all areas of your veterinary clinic are as well-organised and clear of clutter as possible.

This will improve your operational efficiency, as everyone in your practice will always know where everything is. But it will also help with infection control and cleaning.

The less clutter in your clinic, the less you’ll have to clean. Less clutter also means there’ll be fewer objects on which pathogens can take hold.

Infection Risk Assessment for Veterinary Clinics

Carry out a risk assessment of every area of your veterinary clinic, identifying any areas where infections may be more likely to take hold and spread. High-risk areas include any areas where members of the public gather and share facilities, such as your waiting room, along with all consultation and treatment areas.

You should also carry out a risk assessment for all of your medical equipment. Depending on how and where it’s used, your equipment will either carry a low, medium, or high infection risk. And you’ll have to carry out different decontamination procedures depending on the risk. Read our full guide to the different levels of risk and decontamination for medical equipment.

You should also carry out a risk assessment of any cleaning products and disinfectants you intend to use in your veterinary clinic. This involves ensuring that the products you use won’t damage any delicate equipment, and that they’re safe for use in public areas (e.g., they won’t produce any potentially harmful fumes).

Standard Operating Procedures for Veterinary Clinic Cleaning and Disinfection

Aim to create a standard operating procedure (SOP) regarding your cleaning and disinfection protocols. Your risk assessments will help you create your SOP, as you’ll be able to outline which areas, and which equipment, requires the most care and attention.

The SOP can also advise on the safe and effective use of any cleaning products and disinfectant. For example, you can advise staff on the steps they should take if they accidentally spill a product or splash it in their eyes. You can also advise on the correct storage procedures for your disinfectants, based on the manufacturer’s guidelines.

Overall, your cleaning and disinfection SOP should provide clear guidelines for cleaning and disinfecting every area of your veterinary clinic. Ideally, you could include checklists to help your staff ensure they don’t overlook any key areas or procedures when carrying out their responsibilities.

Make your SOP easily accessible to all members of staff and be sure to review it regularly to ensure it’s still fit for purpose. For example, following an infection outbreak, you should conduct a thorough audit into how the infection started, and how it spread. You may choose to review your SOP based on your findings.

Advanced Infection Control Products for your Veterinary Clinic

We stock a full range of infection control products suitable for use in a veterinary clinic.

Our range includes:

  • Clinic Cleaning Products. Including the Virusolve+ range of one step cleaner, sanitiser, and disinfectant solutions.
  • Washroom Hygiene Supplies. Including automatic hand sanitiser dispensers.
  • Absorbent Mats. For faster and more effective fluid management, to help you reduce infection risks and cleaning times.
  • Spill Kits. For fast and effective responses to potentially hazardous spillages.

Learn more about how we support veterinary clinics to meet their infection prevention and control needs.

Operating Theatre Must-Have Equipment Checklist

Three things are vital to delivering an efficient operating theatre:

In this post, we’ll discuss the must-have equipment for any operating theatre.

Why Does Equipment Make a Difference in Operating Theatres?

Obviously, all operating theatre procedures depend upon specialist surgical equipment. You need surgical equipment you can depend on. But it’s just as important to carefully consider the rest of the equipment you use in the operating theatre.

Between each procedure, you’ll have to clean, decontaminate, or sterilise the operating theatre environment, your surgical instruments, and your medical equipment.

Any equipment you use will either be reusable or disposable. With single-use equipment, so long as it’s adequately stored and handled, you can use it during the procedure safe in the knowledge that it’s clean and sterile, and simply dispose of it in the appropriate waste channel following the procedure. But with reusable equipment, you’ll have to take appropriate steps to ensure everything’s adequately processed before and after each procedure.

In this way, the specific equipment you choose for your operating theatre can make a huge difference to your patient outcomes, and to your turnaround time.

Your choice of equipment can also influence your operational efficiency (through reducing clutter while providing ease of access, for example), and the comfort and safety of your theatre team.

Operating Theatre Must-Have Equipment Checklist

Surgical Lights

For illuminating the surgical site while eliminating shadows. Surgical lights can either be LED or halogen. Of the two, LED is more energy efficient. It also provides a brighter, whiter light, and it generates less heat, which can make things more comfortable for surgical teams.

Operating Table

The table upon which the patient lies for the duration of the procedure. Operating tables are often adjustable and with moving parts, to help the surgical team position the patient as necessary for the procedure.

Equipment Management Systems

These provide storage and ease of access for all the necessary surgical equipment, alongside housing for wires and cables.

This can improve operational efficiency through allowing the surgical team to easily access the equipment they need as soon as they need it. These systems can also reduce clutter, helping to remove tripping and slipping hazards.

Operating theatres may also contain warming cabinets, which can be used to keep fluids, linens, and blankets warm, to help reduce the risk of hypothermia during certain procedures.

Surgical Displays

Display systems can either provide up-to-date information about the patient’s status, or they can provide an intricate, magnified view of the patient’s inner anatomy during certain invasive procedures.

Surgical displays may be wall-mounted, or they may be attached to arms or columns.

Surgical Instruments

A surgeon’s tools of the trade. Surgical instruments are used exclusively in sterile spaces, and they’re specifically designed to penetrate a patient’s skin or mucous membrane. Different procedures will require different instruments.

We specialise in supplying high quality instruments for use across a broad range of surgical disciplines. If you’d like to discuss your surgical instrument requirements, get in touch to talk to an expert today.

Scrub Sinks

Operating theatre teams use scrub sinks to wash their hands and forearms before performing surgical procedures. Good hand hygiene is an essential part of effective infection prevention and control in operating theatres.

This is one area where the specific choice of equipment can make a huge difference to your theatre’s operational efficiency. An absorbent floor mat in the theatre or scrub room can help reduce slippery floors and can also reduce turnaround times between procedures.

The most superabsorbent mat, the T-Mat, can absorb up to 8.5 litres of liquid during a procedure, and afterwards your team can quickly and easily dispose of it in the clinical waste. This will dramatically cut down on your cleaning time, with no need for any noisy, time-consuming suction devices and tubing.

We Can Help You Deliver Exceptional Care Quality Standards in the Operating Theatre

Cairn Technology are approved suppliers to both NHS and private healthcare providers. We specialise in helping operating theatre teams improve efficiency and care quality standards.

As well as stocking a range of surgical instruments and specialist infection control products, we can provide expert advice on improving operational effectiveness in the theatre. Get in touch to discuss our products and services with  one of our friendly experts today.

How To Manage an Outbreak of C. difficile

Clostridium Difficile Infections (CDIs) are among the most common hospital acquired infections.

In this post we’ll discuss what C. difficile is and how it spreads. We’ll then explore how robust cleaning protocols and procedures can help you manage a C. diff outbreak.

What is C. difficile?

Clostridium difficile is a type of bacteria which usually lives harmlessly in your bowels. However, certain antibiotic treatments can change the balance of bacteria in the gut, which can trigger a C. difficile infection.

Symptoms of C. difficile Infection

Common symptoms of a C. difficile infection include:

  • Diarrhoea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Stomach ache
  • Nausea
  • High temperatures

How is C. diff Transmitted?

As one of the main symptoms of C. diff is diarrhoea, C. diff infections can spread quickly. When outside the body, the C. diff bacteria can turn into spores which are capable of surviving for long periods on hands, surfaces, objects, clothing, and linen.

Without regular washing and cleaning, it’s all too easy for these spores to transmit from a surface to a person’s mouth, which could result in an infection. For example, a person might touch a surface containing C. diff spores with their hand. They might then, without thinking, wipe their mouth with their hand.

Read our full guide to how communicable diseases spread.

What Places are Most At Risk of a C. diff Outbreak?

Any healthcare setting where patients or residents share facilities is particularly at risk of a C. diff outbreak.

This might include:

  • Care homes
  • GP clinics
  • Hospital wards
  • Dental surgeries

Who is Most At Risk of a C. diff Infection?

As well as people taking certain antibiotic treatments, people aged 65 or over are particularly at risk of C. difficile infections.

How to Manage a C. diff Outbreak

A person with a C. diff infection may carry an infection risk until 48 hours after their symptoms have passed. So ideally, anyone with a C. diff infection should stay at home until at least 48 hours after their symptoms have cleared up. Though in a healthcare setting such as a care home or a hospital, this might not be possible.

As a result, only stringent cleaning procedures and protocols can help prevent and control C. diff outbreaks:

  • Practice good hand hygiene. Staff should adopt the appropriate hand washing technique, and commit to washing their hands at certain key moments – such as before and after touching patients or their surroundings. You should also provide patients and residents with appropriate hand sanitiser so that they too can practice effective hand hygiene.
  • Clean the care environment as often as possible. Your cleaning procedures should already ensure you’re carrying out thorough cleaning at least once a day. But your cleaning procedures should intensify in the event of an outbreak, paying particular attention to any surfaces that people might touch, such as toilets, light-switches, and door handles.
  • Wash any contaminated clothes and sheets as soon as possible, and separately from other washing.
  • Advise visitors to take extra precautions – or to avoid visiting completely – for the duration of the outbreak.

Read our full guide to managing outbreaks in care homes.

How We Can Help You Manage a C. diff Outbreak

We stock an advanced range of highly effective cleaning and containment products that will help you prevent and control C. diff and other infections in your care setting.

Our range includes:

  • Virusolve+ WipesA one-step solution, all-in-one cleaner, sanitiser, and disinfectant that can kill C diff bacteria on surfaces in as little as 5 minutes. It then creates a residual barrier that can help prevent infection for up to 7 days. You can use them on any surface, including carpets, upholstery, and mattresses. Also available as a trigger spray and a concentrate.
  • VirusanAntimicrobial hand sanitiser and hand scrub capable of removing up to 99.999% of the most common germs in less than a minute, designed to eliminate the risk of cross-infection from hand transfer within 30 seconds of application. Also available as a gel.

We also stock hospital-grade air purifiers. In the event of a C. diff outbreak, they can quickly and effectively catch and kill airborne spores, completely cycling the air in a room in as little as 12.5 minutes.

For more information about how we can help you manage C. diff outbreaks in your care setting, call us on 0333 015 4345 or email

Infection Control Legislation For Care Homes

In this post, we’ll take a closer look at how this legislation relates to infection prevention and control in care homes.

Relevant Legislation for Care Homes

If you manage a care home, you have a legal obligation to implement stringent infection prevention and control policies and procedures.

The Health and Social Care Act 2008 gives the Care Quality Commission powers to enforce best practice regulations in all health and adult social care sectors.

You can read the full wording of The Health and Social Care Act 2008 here.

The Health and Social Care Act 2008 only applies to England. There are different legislations in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. We are focusing on the English legislation in this post because it provides an effective introduction to how the regulatory systems works in the UK.

Regardless of the specific legislation that might apply, your obligations are effectively the same:  If you don’t prioritise your residents’ health and wellbeing, regulatory bodies can and will take action against you.

What Are Regulated Activities?

The Health and Social Care Act 2008 defines a “regulated activity” as “an activity of a prescribed kind”.

“Prescribed activity” essentially refers to activity that “involves, or is connected with, the provision of health or social care in, or in relation to, England”.

Regulation of Regulated Activities

The Act gives the Secretary of State powers to “impose requirements … necessary to secure that services provided … cause no avoidable harm to the persons for whom the services are provided.”

This includes making provisions and imposing requirements as to the:

  • Fitness of premises.
  • Keeping of records and accounts.
  • Management and training of anyone who works for the purpose of carrying out the regulated activity.

And crucially, the Act outlines that regulations “may make provision for the prevention and control of health care associated infections and may include such provision as … appropriate for the purpose of safeguarding individuals … from the risk, or any increased risk, of being exposed to health care associated infections or being made susceptible, or more susceptible, to them.”

The Act also gives the Secretary of State powers to issue codes of practice relating to health care associated infections.

What Happens If You Don’t Meet Infection Control Regulations?

The Health and Social Care Act 2008 makes it clear that you have a legal obligation to meet any codes of practice relating to infection prevention and control. If you do not meet these regulations, the Care Quality Commission can take action against you.

This might include:

  • Issuing notices outlining improvements you must make, and by when you should make them.
  • Imposing conditions or restrictions on your practices for a given time.
  • Putting special measures in place to supervise your activities.
  • Holding you to account through issuing cautions, fines, or even through prosecution.

You can read some examples of instances where the Care Quality Commission has used its powers of prosecution.

How To Meet Your Infection Control Regulatory Requirements

We’ve put together a number of guides to help you ensure effective infection control in care homes:

We specialise in supporting healthcare settings, including care homes, in the delivery of effective infection prevention and control policies:

Want to talk about how we can help you meet your infection control regulatory requirements? Get in touch to talk to one of our friendly experts today.