Healthcare facilities need to re-evaluate their infection control plans, says Dilip Patil, Managing Partner, Trivector Biomed
Healthcare facilities are waging a constant battle against infection control. From hands to surfaces, everything in a healthcare facility has an infection prevention protocol. Conventional control plans have been in place for decades – change linens, wash hands, sterilize instruments and surfaces – yet outbreaks persist. Add to this the fact that more and more pathogens and bacteria are developing antibiotic resistance, and it’s becoming obvious that Healthcare facilities need to re-evaluate their infection control plans
Healthcare acquired infections (HAIs) are a major problem facing long-term and day care facilities all over the world. Especially in developing countries the magnitude of this problem is enormous and must be tackled today for better healthcare tomorrow!
Outbreak of Swine Flu and regular out-breaks of other viral infections has become a norm of a sort in India with change in seasons and climate. Beyond the thousands of avoidable annual fatalities, there are extreme costs associated with HAIs, with some reported figures exceeding tens of billions of dollars. There are no practical, effective and affordable ways to kill airborne viruses. The solutions available are either cumbersome, too expensive or less effective. The established ways of sterilisation and cleaning are not enough. Even these viruses and bacteria have become immune to most commonly used antibiotics.
One way to combat HAIs is to understand more about their root causes. Here are some startling facts and figures about HAIs (pertaining to USA). For example HAIs claim an average of 271 lives every day. Most of these fatalities are caused by drug resistant “superbugs” such as methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), noroviruses and clostridium difficile. All told, HAIs kill more people in US than automobile accidents and breast cancer combined.
Healthcare-acquired infections are a major drain on hospital resources. HAIs cost an average of US$ 25,000 per patient. Consider there are approximately two million HAI cases per year, their total burden is in the neighborhood of US$ 50 billion.
Patient-to-patient contact is not the most common transmission route of HAIs. While many cases can be traced back to patient-to-patient contact, the majority of HAIs are transmitted through contact with contaminated surfaces/equipment, or via airborne transmission.
Many HAIs are drug-resistant. While there are numerous viral HAIs, including new strains of avian flu and swine flu, most HAIs are bacterial in nature. Worse, more than 70 per cent of the bacteria that cause HAIs are resistant to one or more of the front line medications used to treat them.
Current infection prevention protocols remain heavily focused on hand and surface cleaning, but neglect the air. Even air filtration systems which use HEPA/UV are not effective in eliminating many viruses, bacteria and odours. Numerous portable air-purifiers are available in the market, but they may not be able to kill all the pathogens in the air. As pathogens and bacteria become more antibiotic resistant, healthcare acquired infections are becoming more commonplace.
In western countries one trend that more and more successful healthcare professionals are exploring is to utilise new technology backed up by solid science as a way to complete their infection control plan. Unique technology like Novaerus Plasma (Dielectric Discharge), which is validated by NASA promises to reduce the threat of bacteria and pathogens in your facility by scrubbing the air. This innovative, effective and affordable technology is now available in India.