Devising a solution to improve patient safety in the use of commodes


15th July 2015


With commodes often costing hundreds of pounds, having to replace them frequently can become a serious issue for hospital budgets. In NHS Lothian commodes are routinely cleaned with a strong bleaching agent to avoid the spread of infections, such as Clostridium difficile and norovirus, but this treatment was gradually staining, rusting and eroding any metal. Staff were also finding some parts awkward to remove and reassemble for cleaning purposes.

After raising the issue at one of NHS Lothian’s regular meetings between infection prevention and control and procurement, staff decided to investigate alternative models, organising a full-scale evaluation that would eventually involve gathering the views of frontline staff and patients.

Staff from infection control, procurement, and manual handling decided that  the new model must be:

  • Sturdy and long-lasting
  • Able to withstand being cleaned regularly by strong bleaching agents, with non-corrosive parts
  • Quick drying after thorough Cleaning
  • Free of gaps where infection might lurk
  • Easy to handle, dismantle and reassemble
  • Simple and comfortable for patients to get in and out of, with good brakes.

Three models were selected and tested across three different hospital sites over a three-month period. Evaluation forms were created so that both staff and patients could give their feedback. The winning commode was GAMA Healthcare’s – which is now being rolled out into practice.

Made of white plastic, it’s lightweight and very easy to clean. “It’s more expensive to buy than its predecessor, but we expect it to last much longer, potentially saving thousands of pounds in the longer term,” says Gill Bowler, Clinical Procurement Manager. Each commode is also covered by a five-year warranty and replacement parts are cheap to buy, adding to its cost effectiveness. “But perhaps more importantly it could also save us thousands of pounds in reducing health care associated infections, as well as avoiding the distress they cause to patients and their families,” says Ann. “Despite our best intentions, we know that we had problems cleaning the previous commodes, but now we can do a much more thorough job.”



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