Background to the invention – What is Isolation Technology?
Isolation technology offers enhanced patient handling capabilities yet safely separates the operator from the diseased patient affected with a dangerous virus. For a growing number of such diseases the current facilities in hospitals are no longer believed to be adequate, leading to a shift towards isolation technology to offer the level of protection demanded by current thinking and legislation.
There are a number of isolation systems designed to isolate an infectious or vulnerable person and to prevent the transmission of viruses and other dangerous pathogens to and from the person being treated.
Those at risk are generally health workers, doctors and nursing staff and other orderlies who come into close contact with infectious persons during the discharge of their duties.
The current systems range from large installations with negative pressure containment chambers and booths designed to allow health workers to safely tend to the needs of a patient with an infectious condition whilst occupying the same space as the patient. These can be integral to a health facility building or take the form of a temporary structure such as a demountable building or tent.
Common to all configurations facilities is a continuous closed environment, typically arranged in a series of anterooms or chambers which allow health workers to don protective clothing prior to entering the patient’s chamber and then to leave the facility through further anterooms where their protective clothing can be decontaminated prior to being safely removed again. These facilities require services for air changing and filtration, waste removal and incineration, medical gases, water, waste and electricity. Often the entire multi-chamber facility is standalone within a larger enclosure such as a temporary building or tent.
Patients are sometimes transported and in some cases nursed in small scale isolation tents where the health workers are outside the enclosure, but these do not allow the patient freedom to move within, or to interact with the outside environment. Neither do they provide the facility to take on fluids and expel waste in a completely safe way.
The current protocol requires health workers to wear protective suits whilst transporting and nursing patients with an infectious disease. Patients are nursed in isolation rooms or enclosures, some with air filtration under negative pressure, and nursing staff must adhere to strictly controlled routines. Our design turns the problem of contamination on its head and puts the patient in the protective suit rather than everyone else having to be so protected.
The new self-supporting isolation suit is designed to be worn by a patient with an infectious disease, with the specific purpose of protecting health workers from contamination through direct contact during nursing.
The solution consists of a suit of generous proportions, constructed of transparent or semi transparent, or opaque, fluid proof materials, which are also impervious to the passage of microbiological organisms such as bacteria and viruses, and which incorporate hermetically sealed seams and closures. The suit will incorporate integral sleeves for the patient’s arms, and these in turn would incorporate integral gloves or mittens for the patient’s hands. The suit will also incorporate integral leg enclosures for the patient’s legs. The patient would enjoy complete freedom of movement for comfort and for interaction with personal possessions and those around them.
A head cover with a transparent visor with a wide angle of view, is attached and hermetically sealed to the main suit. The collar or interface between the head cover, hood or helmet, and the suit, incorporates hermetically sealed glanded transfer pipes for the delivery of fluids to the patients’ mouth. Provision for the incorporation of an air quality sensor and alarm will be made in the suit. There’s also provision for receiving and retaining vomit by way of an integral bag/tube which will be crimped closed from the outside after use.
Once sealed inside the patient is afforded the other benefit/features of the suit which include:
• A replenishing air flow of filtered and temperature controlled air through glanded inlet and exit pipes.
• Water and liquid food pipes positioned within easy reach of the patients mouth.
• At least one secure hermetically sealed transfer hatch for medication and cleaning stuffs.
• Integral nursing gloves giving access to the patient’s entire body.
• A catheter based fecal and urine waste management system (FMS) through glanded pipes to external collection.
• A waste port to an integral bag for the safe disposal of spent medication, cleaning materials and other detritus or artifacts which is accessible from within the suit.
• An IV line port.
The ports, access hatches and air and waste lines will all be hermetically sealed against leakage of air and fluids.
The patient would be transported to the treatment centre in the suit, or placed therein on arrival. Hermetically sealing closures are opened to allow the suit to be placed around the patient (allowing them articulation of their arms and legs) before the head hood enclosure is fitted and the main closures made good. Once the patient is sealed inside the suit the nursing staff would use the integrated nursing access sleeves with gloves to safely catheterize the patient and apply the FMS whilst also making them comfortable.
Benefits – The health workers and nursing staff are protected from the infectious person so do not need to wear protection themselves thus cutting out the hazardous robing/disinfecting/disrobing procedures. The patient is kept comfortable in a micro-controlled environment. All other personnel are protected from risk of infection.
The suit requires an accompanying proprietary air filtration and delivery system. Liquid food stuffs and drinks are delivered by gravity lines, all other nursing facilities are delivered by manual intervention.
The preferred method of manufacture is simple, requiring the incorporation of moulded plastics parts/tubes and die-cut and welded sheet polymers and other textiles – simple manufacturing equipment is required but with rigorous assembly and testing.