14 December 2016
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Fasteners with a smooth bedside manner

Attention to both hygiene and installation flexibility in hospital bedhead trunking systems posed some challenges to manufacturers that have been perfectly satisfied by a simple press fixing, as Böllhoff’s Andy Witts explains.

It is easy to presume that the trunking systems that surround hospital beds are mere commodities – most people do not even notice them unless they are laid up in the bed with nothing else to stare at.

The plethora of not just medical equipment and services (such as oxygen) that are supplied to hospital beds, but also emergency call systems, monitors and patient communications and entertainment systems, mean that the infrastructure at the bedside is now substantial. It would simply be untenable to have such a bundle of cables and tubes trailing in the ward.

Hospital bedhead trunking is not equipment one might immediately associate as posing particularly challenging fastening challenges, but the development of ever more sophisticated bed side equipment and recent changes in guidance to hospitals and medic al equipment manufacturers have changed that.

In 2013 the Department of Health published its Health Technical Memorandum 08-03: Bedhead services in which guidelines for the design, installation and maintenance of bedhead trunking is detailed. The main driver behind the recommendations of the Memorandum is the reduction of healthcare associated infection risk.

The design and construction of trunking systems is such that in section 6.8 of the Memorandum it states:

The design of a bedhead services trunking system should be in accordance with BS EN ISO 11197. Key features should include, among others, the following:

  • The design of the trunking should have minimal horizontal surfaces and promote high standards of infection control with surfaces that are easy to wipe clean.
  • The front surfaces of the panels should generally show no fixing device used to attach components to the panels, nor should there be any obvious blemishes resulting from such fixings.

There are other key features, such as the ability to change the configurations of the bedhead services quickly from, say, an emergency unit to a cardiac one. In section 5.18 of the Memorandum, it states that trunking must among other things:

  • allow the speedy and economic adaptation, amendment, reconfiguration or addition of services by competent people to take account of changing clinical functionalities or variations in clinical or patient needs;
  • be integrated as much as possible to provide a neat and tidy arrangement that ensures that the risk of harm arising from accidental trips over loose cables and/or contact with articulated overhead equipment support arms is minimal. The use of purpose-designed and manufactured trunking systems and suitable articulated arms to provide coordinated support access to bedhead services may be considered to aid this process;
  • be readily accessible for maintenance
  • The ideal solution for fixing the trunking facias is to have a blind fixing, hence presenting no protuberances in which dirt or harmful bacteria can gather. For one manufacturer, the answer was to design in SNAPLOC® fasteners from Böllhoff. These quick and easy push fit fasteners provide a secure fixing that can be readily disconnected for maintenance or reconfiguration purposes.

SNAPLOC® fasteners consist of only two component parts that are easy to assemble and detach. The fasteners can be integrated into the design of the corresponding components. SNAPLOC® plug-in connections consist of a ball stud and a coupling. Inside the coupling there is a ball socket the ball stud snaps into.

The trunking manufacturer punches holes in an aluminium extrusion and SNAPLOC® couplings are pushed into place by an operator. Studs are welded onto the other part of the component and the fasteners’ ball studs are screwed on. Parts then snap together showing a clean and professional finish. Apart from enabling the manufacturer to meet the guidelines of the Health Technical Memorandum, the use of SNAPLOC® also significantly reduces labour costs because the assembly operations are simpler and quicker.

SNAPLOC® fasteners come in a huge variety of types, patterns and configurations, including a range that can be moulded in for plastics applications. They are robust and long lasting and provide an extremely elegant solution for secure press fixings.

Bollhoff Fastenings Ltd

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