Healthcare News & Insights

New paint could stop spread of infections

When looking to prevent the spread of germs in hospitals, executives must look at all options available to disinfect facilities. If a new product delivers on its promise, one might be as simple as putting a fresh coat of paint on hospital walls. 

ThinkstockPhotos-177424111Paint manufacturer Sherwin-Williams has announced that it has created a special type of paint designed to kill bacteria that cause several types of hospital-acquired infections, including MRSA, VRE, staph and E. coli.

As detailed in an article from ABC News, the paint, sold under the “Paint Shield” brand, allegedly kills 99.9% of bacteria that come into contact with its surface after two hours. According to a statement from Sherwin-Williams, the product has passed various federal tests that prove its effectiveness.

Paint Shield is designed to be used on hard, nonporous surfaces, such as walls, ceilings, doors and trim. It’s being marketed to hospitals, but it can also be used in any setting where germs spread quickly, including schools, senior care communities – and even cruise ships.

While the paint’s been put through the wringer in the lab, it hasn’t yet been used in a real-life setting – hospital or otherwise – and that makes experts wary.

Benefits & drawbacks

Many infections are transmitted person-to-person among staff, patients and visitors, the ABC News article said. Using germ-killing paint on ceilings and surfaces may not make much of a difference in that regard.

But, according to Dr. Anthony Harris, an epidemiology expert from the University of Maryland, rooms housing patients infected with treatment-resistant “superbugs” are contaminated between 20% and 30% of the time. So using paint that repels bacteria might keep these infections under control.

Another place where germ-fighting paint could make a difference: isolation rooms for patients with compromised immune systems. The paint could serve as an extra layer of protection to keep them from contracting devastating illnesses.

So if your hospital is doing renovations in the near future, or if it’s time to spruce up the paint on the walls in your rooms, it may be worth looking at whether using bacteria-resistant paint is feasible for your budget.

An article in Fortune says the paint’s suggested retail price will be $84.99, compared to other products put out by Sherwin-Williams, which range between $29.99 and $79.99.

But the added cost could be worth it if it helps keeps patients healthy.

Boost for infection prevention

Remember that even if Paint Shield does end up being effective in the hospital setting, it doesn’t take the place of following best practices for preventing infections – such as proper hand hygiene. But using the product as an enhancement to your current infection control program could be beneficial.

The paint should be available for purchase during the first quarter of 2016.

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