SMTL Blog

Safety scalpels are versions of  traditional scalpels which include engineered solutions to reduce the risk of  sharps injury.  They usually employ a retractable blade, a retractable sheath, or a blunt tip to the blade as part of their safety mechanism.

ECRI is an international non-profit organisation that conducts independent medical device evaluations. As a result of her previous work in this area (Ford and Phillips, 2008), SMTL R+D officer Jo Ford was asked to review ECRI's criteria, test methods, product profiles and technology background for a range of safety scalpels assessed by ECRI. The evaluations have now been published in ECRI's online journal 'Health Devices' : Scalpels, July, 2021

The EN 13726 series of standards published in the early 2000s cover the test methods for primary wound dressings.  During a systematic review in 2012 it was apparent that a number of test methods were not being used. and other methods needed significant revision to ensure the test results remained relevant to modern dressing design. It was agreed that a full revision of the standard was required to address these issues.

In the intervening period SMTL have been heavily involved in organising the inter-laboratory workstreams, data analysis and subsequently re-writing of the standard, with Pete Phillips (Director of SMTL) chairing the CEN Project Group TC/205/WG15/PG1, under which the Panel operated, and Dr Gavin Hughes (Deputy Director, SMTL) acting as the Editor of the standard.

A new prEN 13726 (Test methods for wound dressings - Aspects of absorbency and moisture vapour transmission, waterproofness and conformability) has been produced which will eventually supersede EN 13726-1:2002, EN 13726-2:2002, EN 13726-3:2003 and EN 13726-4:2003. 

prEN 13726 has been out for enquiry across Europe, and the ballot has recently been approved.  The working group are currently updating the draft standard with comments submitted during the enquiry,  with the aim to have the updated standard ready for the dispatch of formal vote-draft in March 2022. It is anticipated that the standard will be published later in 2022.

Atraumatic Diagnostic Lumbar Puncture - new advice from EBPB (May 2021)

The EBPB have issued advice and an evidence review for the use of atraumatic needles in diagnostic lumbar puncture (DLP). 

The EBPB concluded that there was a clear clinical benefit to using atraumatic needles for DLP, through a reduction of post-dural puncture headache (PDPH). Economic analysis suggests that despite the increased cost of atraumatic needles, cost savings could be achieved through PDPH reduction. The EBPB agreed that even without the potential for cost savings, patients would still benefit from this change in needle design. 

The full statement and evidence review are available on the EBPB pages.

SMTL have welcomed a new member of the Biological Testing Team to SMTL - Jotika Ramnik Halai. Jotika was previously working in the Covid testing Lighthouse Laboratory in Newport before taking up her new position at SMTL.
 
Dr James Evans, one of SMTL's research officers, became a father for the first time in March. We are happy to report that Joseph (James' son)  and James' wife Beth are all well, and that James is back in work following a relaxing bout of patermity leave.
 
Finally, Elaine Morgan takes early retirement in July so she can spend more time with her growing brood of grandchildren. Fortunately for SMTL, Elaine is going to return part time in the role of office manager in a job share, and Jade Taylor will be acting up into the shared role during the transition.        

The SMTL Quality Assurance department has recently completed a testing programme for the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board at the new Grange University Hospital in Cwmbran.

The Grange University Hospital is a brand new hospital with 470 inpatient beds (around 560 including trolley spaces) located near Cwmbran for people across Gwent who need highly specialised services including critical care.

SMTL were tasked with the airborne microbiological testing of all Operating Theatres & other controlled Clean Rooms at the Grange University Hospital to validate the cleanliness of all commissioned Theatres prior to use.

The project went extremely well and within schedule. Eighteen Theatres were tested in total, and to date all are performing within expected parameters. The hospital is expected to open ahead of the original schedule on 17th November 2020.

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