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How enzymatic detergents reduce healthcare costs

Study finds enzymatic detergents significantly improve equipment cleaning efficiency

The financial costs of contaminated surgical instruments are substantial. 

According to a report by the ECRI Institute, improper reprocessing costs the average hospital $16,905 per year.  Total costs throughout the U.S. are estimated at an eye-popping $104 million.

It seems that by now, our technology should’ve made this problem a thing of the past.  Yet the data shows that healthcare facilities continue to struggle.

However, there is one source for optimism: enzymatic detergents.

A recent study conducted by a global healthcare detergent manufacturer found that detergents combined with the right mix of enzymes cleaned medical equipment significantly better and faster than other products. 

Let’s take a closer look at their findings and how we can use enzymes to save hundreds of millions of dollars annually.


How contaminated instruments wreak financial havoc

First, let’s examine why improper reprocessing is so expensive. According to ECRI, the average cost breakdown looks like this:

  • Reprocessing contaminated surgical tray: $20
  • Replacing contaminated “soft-goods:” $62-92
  • Replacing contaminated surgical tray with sterile tray: $70
  • OR Turnover: $33
  • Delayed surgery in OR suite: $200 for every 10 minutes
  • Total potential cost: $385 - $415 per dirty instrument

(Note that these are just the figures for hospitals and does not include the annual $30 billion in insurance costs due to infections acquired as a result of improper reprocessing)

Notice a trend? Most of the costs are incurred due to rewashing equipment that wasn’t properly cleaned the first time around.  With medical instruments becoming increasingly complex in design, this problem will only grow with time. 


Enzymes to the rescue

Thankfully, there’s a solution to all of this, and it’s backed by science.

Enzymes have long been known to make cleaning processes more effective.  To test whether they could be used to save healthcare facilities money, an array of soaked objects were coated with a medically relevant protein in various solutions.

The solutions included several detergents with varying doses of three different enzymes, as well as detergents without enzymes.  Each object was soaked until all the protein was removed.  Each solution was evaluated on the amount of time it took to reach 100% protein removal.

A few key findings that emerged:

  • Higher doses of enzymes resulted in faster cleaning times
  • Enzymes are critical for efficient cleaning.  Non-enzymatic detergents resulted in the slowest cleaning times
  • Each class of enzymes performed differently under different conditions (ie. pH levels, water temperature and soak times), but all were more effective than non-enzymatic solutions

The conclusion was straightforward.  The right mix of enzymes used under the right conditions led to significantly improved cleaning efficiency - exactly what healthcare facilities need to cut down on contamination costs.


Putting enzymes into practice

While the study made clear that enzymes were key, it’s equally important to note they found that “not all enzymes are created equal.”  As mentioned above, different enzymes achieved varying results depending on the dose and environment.

Fortunately, we take all the guesswork out of determining the best enzyme mix for your detergents.  If you’re ready to boost your medical cleaning products with these powerful molecules, Novozymes will provide everything you need to maximize effectiveness.

With our enzymes in your detergents, your customers will reduce cleaning times by up to 70% while having peace of mind that their equipment is being effectively sanitized.  Contact us today to get the complete rundown on how we can help your healthcare facilities save tens of thousands of dollars and millions of headaches.