Hospitals and clinics depend on sufficient availability of hand sanitizers to effectively protect both patients and staff from infections. This dependence is heightened during pandemics, like COVID-19. An open dispenser system that accepts bottles from different manufacturers is an indispensable tool to protect patients and staff. In a short conversation with Dr. Béatrice Grabein from the LMU Clinic in Munich, we learned why they exclusively rely on dispensers with Euro Dispensers. This Euro Bottle standard was introduced by OPHARDT Hygiene in 1973, and has since established itself as the preferred dispensing format in Germany and surrounding countries.
Markus Theissen: Dr. Grabein, the current coronavirus situation shows once again how important thorough hand hygiene is for infection prevention. You are probably seeing a significant increase in your consumption quantities at the moment – right?
Dr. Grabein: Indeed – with the beginning of the rise in COVID-19 cases, we are seeing an increase in the consumption of hand sanitizers, but also of personal protective equipment, such as respiratory masks and disposable gloves, which are now naturally being used more and more as part of infection prevention. Overall, our hygiene measures have been adapted to keep new infections with the novel coronavirus to a minimum.
Hospital personnel accept the hygiene measures very well and implement the COVID-19-specific protective measures with great commitment. This naturally includes good and intensive hygiene with its most important component — hygienic hand disinfection.
Markus Theißen: We read a lot about supply bottlenecks for disinfectants. How do you ensure that healthcare staff have access to enough sanitizer during these times?
Dr. Grabein: Through the clinic-wide use of soap and hand disinfectant dispensers that comply with the Euro bottle standard, we do not have to rely on a specific manufacturer for the supply of the corresponding hand hygiene products. In the current situation, we can switch relatively quickly to the sanitizer or hand washing solution of another manufacturer.
Under normal circumstances, we already avoid using the same hand disinfectant everywhere. As you can imagine, there are different preferences in our clinic with several thousand employees, which we try to respond to. One ward prefers Product A with moisturizing agents, while another ward prefers Product B without additives. In addition, the solutions differ in their efficacy spectrum and, depending on the situation, bottles have to be changed quickly. We use a total of 5 different hand disinfectants in our university hospital. It is therefore clear to us that anything other than an open, independent dispenser system is out of the question.
Although we use an open system, we cannot avoid in-house production and filling due to the delivery difficulties of almost all manufacturers. Fortunately we have a very efficient pharmacy. At the moment, we would like to see more lockable dispensers, as theft does indeed play a role. Therefore we do not currently fill dispensers in public, unsupervised areas.
Markus Theissen: That sounds reasonable. What other advantages does the Euro-bottle format offer in your view?
Dr. Grabein: First of all, by using these dispensers we comply with the current hand hygiene recommendations of the KRINKO (The Commission for Hospital Hygiene and Infection Prevention at the Robert Koch Institute) from 2016, which is of course important, and respresents the current state-of-the-art hand hygiene recommendations.
A further factor “pro” open format lies in the economic aspects. Flexibility is not only an advantage in times of increased demand, in order to secure the supply in the short term, but also in the long term. We can therefore react to price increases or product innovations.
Markus Theißen: Dr. Grabein, thank you very much for the interesting conversation and for taking the time to provide us with your perspective and experience.
Dr. med. Béatrice Grabein is Head Physician of the staff unit Clinical Microbiology and Hospital Hygiene at the LMU Klinikum in Munich