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Medical keyboards promote infection control

June 14, 2011
Thorough infection control is a vital part in providing a safe environment to patients and staff in the medical and dental professions. This white paper explains how medical-grade keyboards are replacing conventional PC keyboards, presenting a cost-efficient solution to ensure proper infection control.
New generation of medical-grade keyboards highly improves patient and staff safety in dental practices
In the medical industry, infection control is of major concern to ensure a safe environment for patients and staff. Medical institutions such as hospitals and private practices have implemented various measures to keep up with valuable rules and regulations (guidelines). The risk of infections due to virus contamination on keyboards, however, still seems to be overlooked or regarded as insignificant. Generic PC keyboards, oftentimes falsely advertised as medical keyboards, provide a breeding ground for harmful viruses as they cannot be properly cleaned and disinfected due to their moving keys and overall design characteristics. Commonly believed to be a proper solution is the implementation of plastic or silicone keyboard covers. However, as the material is porous, bacteria are wiped into the material during the cleaning process. The new generation of medical-grade keyboards offers a convenient and cost-effective solution to drastically reduce the risk of infections. Design characteristics and implementationIndustrial keyboards specifically designed for medical environments require certain specifications in order to fulfill infection-control requirements. Rather than porous rubber and silicone material, they feature high-end foil surfaces. In order to be splash-proof and resistant to disinfection liquids and alcohol, a fully sealed surface according to IP 65 (NEMA 4X) is essential — this allows for fast and frequent cleaning of the equipment, ensuring a sterile environment. Additionally, keyboards such as Hoffmann + Krippner’s keywi CleanBoard® are designed with an integrated LED disinfection reminder, monitoring the appropriate time interval in which cleaning is recommended.For comfortable data input, the layout of medical keyboards is compatible with 10-finger typing. Various versions feature an integrated mouse pad as well as an alphanumeric keypad, eliminating the need for an external mouse. Adjustable acoustic/tactile feedback provides for a pleasant typing sensation and simple operation — with and without protective gloves. The standard power supply is via a USB connector; however, certain wireless versions are available as well. The service life corresponds to that of common keyboards — more than 1 million operations per key. Medical-grade keyboards are designed to fit common medical cabinets and drawers to ensure hassle-free implementation. They are plug-and-play-enabled via the USB connector, avoiding installation requirements. Without disconnecting the keyboards from the medical devices, all keys can be disabled during the disinfection process. This feature encourages frequent cleaning and possibly prevents devices from getting lost and not being returned. ApplicationsMedical-grade keyboards are receiving more and more attention from hospitals and clinics as a cost-effective investment while hospital-acquired infections are becoming an incalculable risk. Typically, these keyboards are implemented in operating rooms, intensive care units, and cleanrooms, where fast and convenient data input under extreme sterile conditions is essential. For certain applications, an external mouse is the preferred choice, which is typically available featuring the same material and properties as the keyboard.Additionally, doctors' offices and dental practices are becoming aware of the innovative technology and its great benefits to the health of their patients and staff. It provides an effective approach to ensure sterile equipment, which certainly every staff member is exposed to on a daily basis.Final conclusionThorough infection control is a vital part in providing a safe environment to patients and staff in the medical industry. Proper medical-grade devices are replacing more and more conventional PC keyboards, presenting medical institutions with an effective approach to infection control. In the long-run, medical keyboards are certainly the most cost-efficient solution on the market as a one-time purchase, replacing contaminated keyboards and keyboard covers. For more informationkeywi USA – A division of Hoffmann + Krippner, Inc.