The American Journal of Infection Control, has shown that nurses perceive the single-use system of handling and disposing of human waste as more hygienic, more convenient, and safer than the alternative reusable system.

A total of 1,100 nurses at National University Hospital Singapore (NUH) were surveyed to investigate perceptions on the single-use system they had used over an 11-month period. This followed a hospital-wide conversion from the traditional reusable plastic receptacle system that had previously been in use across the 1,100-bed tertiary hospital.

Identical questions, measured using a five-point scale to assess level of agreement, sought to capture direct comparisons between the two systems of washing and toileting immobile patients.

The survey covered areas such as satisfaction, hygiene, ease-of-use, reliability and infection control value. Survey responses were received from 931 (84.6 per cent) of nurses with experience of using both methods.

Responses to all questions showed significantly greater support for the single-use system. Nurses reported that the disposable receptacles were more convenient, more hygienic, easier to use and saved time. This contrasted with negative perceptions of reusable receptacles, which were perceived as more offensive, less efficient and more likely to cause nosocomial infections.

When asked for opinions on patients’ perceptions of the two contrasting systems, nurses reported that patients regarded disposable products as more hygienic and less likely to cause healthcare associated infections. They also perceived that patients felt more comfortable using a single-use disposable receptacle.

Nurses reported that they believed that single-use disposal units were less smelly and noisy than sanitisers when in operation, and that they contributed to perceptions of a cleaner and more pleasant environment.

The report was authored by a cross-functional team from NUH and the National University of Singapore, comprising the hospital’s Division of Infectious Diseases, and department of Infection Prevention, and the University’s School of Medicine and Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.

The authors concluded: “Our survey confirms the single-use disposable receptacles were perceived by nurse users as superior to reusable receptacles in all areas assessed. Because tertiary hospitals search for innovative, hygienic and time-saving solutions to dispose and handle human waste, this single-use disposable system is a confirmed user-supported alternative.”

NUH removed all reusable plastic bedpans, urinals, wash bowls and other receptacles from its wards in March 2014 and converted to a single-use disposable system, supplied by Vernacare.

Sanitisers were replaced with Vernacar’s Vortex disposal units, and plastic receptacles were replaced with Vernacare’s disposable products, made from renewable fibre.

This decision followed a pilot trial in 2013 across four wards, which provided positive feedback to support the hospital’s conversion to the single-use system of toileting and washing immobile patients.

The Vernacare single-use system brings several financial, environmental, nursing and infection control benefits. These include helping to reduce instances of hospital acquired infections, such as Clostridium difficile and Escherichia coli, and eliminating the infection risk, expense and inconvenience of using clinical waste or chemical disinfection processes.

The single-use ‘Vernacare System’ of hygienic patient toileting and washing is used in 94 per cent of NHS hospitals in the UK and across healthcare facilities in 48 countries. Vernacare is the only company to manufacture a complete single-use human waste disposal system, which is accepted as the global gold standard for human waste management.

For further information, call Vernacare on 01204 52949, e-mail or visit