Fighting Hospital Infections

November 23, 2009 8:14:02 AM PST
More than 250 people die each day from a hospital-acquired infection in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control, and you have a one in 20 chance of contracting one during your hospital stay. Two of the more dangerous hospital-acquired infections are known as MRSA and C. diff. Both are classified as antibiotic-resistant infections. MRSA stands for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, but it is resistant not only to methicillin but also to other more common antibiotics like oxacillin, penicillin and amoxicillin. MRSA and other staph infections occur most often among people staying in hospitals and nursing homes who have weakened immune systems. C. diff, or Clostridium difficile, is a common, usually harmless bug that about 3 percent of healthy adults harbor in their bodies. The overuse of antibiotics has pushed the germ to develop resistance to treatment. The more virulent form of C. diff can cause persistent diarrhea, blood poisoning and even death. According to government figures, infections caused by C. diff more than doubled between 2000 and 2005. In 2005, 28,600 people in the U.S. died from it (Source: MSNBC).

PREVENTING INFECTION: Experts say the best way to prevent hospital-acquired infections is by practicing good hand-washing. "Hospital-acquired infections are really one of the major medical problems facing the United States as well as around the world," Don Dennis, M.D., professor of anesthesiology, pharmacology and psychiatry at the University of Florida in Gainesville, told Ivanhoe. "Approximately half of those conditions are related to poor hand hygiene." The difficulty, experts say, lies in ensuring that all hospital workers abide by hand hygiene guidelines. Currently, human observers periodically monitor how closely health care workers are following the CDC's guidelines for hand-washing.

SNIFFING OUT CLEAN HANDS: Researchers at the University of Florida have developed a system they hope could replace human observers as a way to monitor and enforce hand-washing practices at health care facilities. The sensor system, called HyGreen, scans hands after they are washed to check for fumes of soap or hand sanitizer. If a health care worker takes more than 90 seconds to enter the proximity of a patient and begin care, a badge vibrates as a reminder to wash the hands again. "From our preliminary data, we can catch every instance where a health care worker washes their hands and every instance where they don't wash their hands," Richard Melker, M.D., Ph.D., professor of anesthesiology, pediatrics and biomedical engineering at the University of Florida in Gainesville, told Ivanhoe. The HyGreen system also logs to the second the frequency of hand-washing and patient contact in a database that clinical supervisors can review as needed.

For More Information, Contact:

Elena Casson
Director of Marketing
Xhale, Inc. HyGreen Division
(352) 371-8488
ecasson@xhale.com


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