Development of a Unique Indicator Label


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Martin Habekost, Jason Lisi, Krishan Rampersad


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Ryerson University has teamed up with Lunanos Inc., a Torontobased company, to develop a method for the production of its IndiClean label on a flexographic label press. This involved research into the right combination of anilox rollers to be used, to the correct screen tint for applying the proprietary indicator ink and also finding the best way to apply a protective layer over the label, so that the indicator functions to specifications. The application of the protective layer involved some innovative thinking in regards to the application and diecutting process.

Many surfaces in medical facilities are consider high traffic touch points and need to be disinfected on a regular basis to avoid the spreading of germs and infections. Environmental surfaces provide an excellent environment for pathogenic microbes to live and reproduce. Many microbes are able to survive for extended periods of time on everyday surfaces such as bed rails and ultrasound machines. These potentially multidrug resistant bacteria are then able to spread by contact with patients, staff, and visitors, resulting in healthcareassociated infections (HAIs).


Improper cleaning can lead to increased HAIs. HAIs are the fourth largest cause of death in developed countries, resulting in more deaths than breast cancer, AIDS, and traffic accidents combined. Even though 3050% of these cases are preventable, they affect 1 in 10 Canadian hospital admissions, leading to 8000 deaths every year, and it is estimated that an HAI can increase individual treatment costs by $6,000 to $45,000 as well as lengthen inpatient treatment time by 4 to 14 days.

Infection prevention and control professionals have said that tracking the cleaning of the over 10,000 pieces of equipment in a hospital is very difficult, pointing particularly to mobile equipment--like IV poles, carts, and wheelchairs. Although hospital cleaning personnel know that they play a key part in patients' care, they are often under tremendous time pressure to complete their tasks, and they are looking for an automatic method to note whether a particular surface needs to be recleaned. Currently, there is no product on the market that can address that issue. Traditional methods, like log sheets or writing time of cleaning on pieces of tape, require hospital staff to remember to pause cleaning in order to make notes? while advanced methods, like using proximity sensors, are very costly and require extensive training.

Lunanos Inc. has developed a proprietary indicator coating technology, which they have incorporated into a prototype label, that will help healthcare facilities improve disinfection procedures of environmental surfaces by clearly identifying surfaces and equipment that require cleaning. The label (IndiClean) can be placed upon numerous surfaces, including pieces of mobile equipment that travel from room to room in hospitals. When a staff member uses a liquid disinfectant to wipe down a surface, the proprietary polymer technology that coats IndiClean will cause a visible color change. The company is currently developing a method to control the time it takes for the color to return to the initial state, allowing for differences in each facility's protocols regarding when cleaning is required. Cleaning staff will be trained to identify the initial color (i.e. before cleaning), and to proceed with cleaning after observation of the "unclean" color. The labels automatically activate, preventing the need for staff members to remember what they need to clean and what they have cleaned already. Training will be provided to staff to strategically place labels in a strategic location on each high traffic touch point surface in order for staff to easily see the indicator during their normal routine. IndiClean has been designed clearly such that there will be minimal difficulties with interpreting its message. Currently, there are no such cleaning indicator products on the market, making IndClean a whole new product class.

Lunanos Inc. was successful in creating handmade prototypes of their label? however, these prototypes varied considerably in consistency due to the uncontrollable variability associated with the hand crafting process. In addition, the current method of assembly does not allow for mass production of the labels, nor is it economically viable. Ryerson's role in this project was to develop a process that would allow consistent and repeatable results for generating good labels at a mass scale, at a reasonable costperunit.

This research paper details the research, testing, and progress to date associated with developing a successful, reliable, and reproduceable IndiClean label.

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