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Why use a standardized curtain?

Patient curtains have been a mainstay of hospital privacy and infection control strategy for many decades, and in that time their design has changed relatively little – after all, a curtain is a curtain, right?

With the exception of high-risk departments such as the ER and ICU, hospital curtains around the world are still largely made from fabric and designed to be reusable.  They’re a functional and cheap way to preserve dignity and suppress the spread of infection within low-risk wards.

With the exception of modern, newly built facilities, most hospitals have a mixture of old and new buildings that vary in size and style, and as a result they require a large range of curtain sizes to accommodate variations in their interiors, including ward layouts and ceiling heights.

These variations have always caused a degree of hassle that’s generally accepted as an occupational hazard when it comes to curtain changes.  Hospitals have to carry huge amounts of curtain inventory, arranged in complex systems to allow auxiliary staff to locate the right size and style of curtain when they need to make a change.  Added to the physical exertion and time taken to climb a ladder and replace said curtain, and it’s unsurprising that many ‘low risk’ hospital curtains might hang in place for up to four weeks before being switched out and laundered.

Prior to the arrival of Covid-19, concerns were already being raised about the possibility that these patient curtains could be contributing to the spread of hospital-acquired infections, like MRSA.  And once the pandemic hit, it was clear there was no such thing as a ‘low risk’ ward any more, with the added complication that any and all surfaces could be a source of cross infection.

The need for frequent laundering of patient curtains has led many facilities to seek out a simpler alternative, by standardizing curtains throughout the hospital.

How do standardized curtains work?

InstaSwap is a standardized snap curtain system that makes it easy to switch out patient curtains, and minimizes inventory for hospital managers.

One Size Fits Everywhere

They work by accommodating all the physical variations of the ward environment – such as size and ceiling height – into the parts of the system that don’t have to be laundered, i.e. the track and a nylon top mesh portion.  The nylon mesh is non-absorbent, so it doesn’t need to be washed on a regular basis, and can be cut to any length or depth to fit any size patient bay, and accommodate any ceiling height.  This means that all the actual curtain panels – the lower portion that provides privacy and is handled by patients, visitors and staff – can all be the same size.  

Reduced Inventory

When a curtain change is required, there’s no need to go searching for the right size panel, and there’s no complex inventory storage.  In fact, we’ve estimated that switching to InstaSwap can help hospitals cut their inventory levels by half!

Safer Swaps

InstaSwap’s curtain panels attach to the top mesh with heavy duty snap fasteners positioned at head height, which makes curtain changes faster, safer and much less laborious – simply remove the soiled curtain and snap on a clean panel, with no ladders required.

Antimicrobial & Reduced Laundry Costs

InstaSwap curtain panels are manufactured from a lightweight polyester fabric that has been treated with antimicrobial agents.  This provides additional peace of mind by preventing the growth of bacteria and germs between curtain changes, while also reducing the bulk and cost of laundering the curtains.  

Better Infection Control

Selecting a standardized curtain ultimately makes it easier and faster to change hospital curtains which makes it practical to do so on a much more regular basis – and this in turn can significantly reduce the prevalence of hospital-acquired infections. 

To find out more about the benefits of standardized curtains or to get a no-obligation quote for InstaSwap, contact Dan Lawrenson –