According to CDC reports, over 700,000 hospital patients acquired an infection as a result of their hospital stay in 2011, resulting in roughly 75,000 deaths. The majority of these Hospital Acquired Infections (HAIs) occurred in intensive care units.
The CDC, other governmental health initiatives, and hospitals across the nation are all acutely aware of the growing threat of HAI's. With multi-drug resistant bacteria on the rise, the need for containment and reduction of infections is increasingly important.
What's new in infection prevention?
In response to the situation, Baptist Health System in Florida created a new material for scrubs that is highly durable and repels liquid, in an effort to prevent the spread of germs, by making healthcare workers' attire completely wipe-able. The scrubs are a year-long collaborative effort between the hospital and Vestigen technical textiles.1
The need for new techniques in reducing spreadable infections is so great that a few years ago, the CDC granted 10 million dollars in research funds to develop new ways to decrease HAIs.3 Proposed strategies included using ultraviolet light to clean hospital rooms, and treating patients with a sort of probiotic cocktail that wouldn't affect patients but would harm passenger pathogens. Baptist Health isn't the only institution to create innovations to reduce the spread of dangerous bugs.
The University of Chicago Medical Center fashioned a system in which patients infected with multi-drug resistant pathogens are flagged in the EHR for assignment to a private room with appropriate signage on the door detailing rules for entrance. Nurses are tasked with informing patients and family and ensuring adherence to the specialized guidelines. This simple protocol led to increased precautions, evidenced by an increase in flagged patients, rising from 58 percent to 90 percent.2 If the increased isolation of certain patients seems like a failure in efforts, think again. Keeping these patients contained reduces the spread of deadly bugs.
Other innovations include an automated hand hygiene system and usage tracker, called Handgiene. The system offers automated access to hand cleaning solution for workers, as well as keeps record of worker usage. With the advent of mobile technology in the clinic, keeping tablets and other mobile devices pathogen free is of equal importance. Multiple companies, including ReadyDock and Daylight Medical5 offer “disinfecting stations” for mobile tablets and other devices. This technology utilizes ultraviolet light to kill germs.
With the impending Hospital-Acquired Condition Reduction Program beginning this October, we are seeing an increase in medical technology companies delivering products that promise more efficient patient care. These innovations are some of many that promise a bright future for patient safety in healthcare.
About the Author
1. How a new Hospital Gown Could Prevent Infection (2014). Advisory Daily Briefing.
2. Electronic Isolation Flags and Weekly Rounds by Infection Control Staff Improve Adherence to Contact Precautions (2014). Innovations AHRQ.
3. Research Centers to Explore Innovative Ways of Reducing HAIs (2011). Nurse News.
4. HandGiene, http://www.handgienecorp.com
5. Daylight Medical Launches SKY 6Xi Disinfection Technology For Healthcare (2014). MDT Mag.