Hygienic furniture may save lives

03 Sep 2012

A young inventor who set about creating more hygienic hospital furniture after being refused access to his sick grandfather because of the risk of spreading infection is in the running for a major award.

Paddy Mulcahy, 21, is competing for the 2012 James Dyson Award and has been offered university support to bring his easy-clean U-neat unit to market.

The all-in-one bedside table, locker and chairs is cornerless and so mitigates against the build-up of bacteria - meaning it could drastically lower the likelihood of infections being spread.

"The existing furniture is a breeding ground for bacteria," Mr Mulcahy said.

"Too often people admitted to hospitals contract further serious illnesses. Going to hospital shouldn't mean putting your health at greater risk."

U-neat won the Irish leg of the 2012 Dyson Awards and will now go head-to-head with inventions from 18 other nations in a bid to scoop the international young inventor's prize.

Over 70% of the spread of infections in hospitals is attributable to surface-to-person transfer of bacteria, according to Mr Mulcahy's research.

While most most hospitals use cheap chip board units which are difficult to clean and have a short lifespan, U-neat units, made from Lego-style plastic,should cost around 200 euro once large-scale manufacturing begins.

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