Based on a CDC (Center for Disease Control) estimate, there were more than 722,000 healthcare-associated infections in US acute care hospitals during the 2011 survey year. These infections were estimated to be responsible for a staggering 75,000 deaths. Acronyms likeMRSA(Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) has now entered into the common lexicon to describe antibiotic-resistant pathogens that have developed into real danger for patients in Americas Hospitals.
The CDC estimates approximately 20% of the infections were transmitted by contact with a hospital clinician or caregiver, but medical devices also pose a risk. Both packaged and in-hospital sterilized medical devices and instruments can also deliver surgery site infections that can be deadly.
Many companies have begun innovating new technologies to help thwart the flow of these problematic nosocomial infections. Companies like Vander Stahl Scientific near Los Angeles, California are committed to shrinking this problem through safer packing systems. Van der Stahl Scientific has created a patented medical device packaging machine designed to firewall the release of non-sterile devices from medical device manufactures into the hospital distribution chain.
According to a company spokesman, Charlie Webb CPP “Even the most efficacious medical device can be rendered poisonous if the device loses sterility. Webb goes on to say that “sometimes the fault of a sterile barrier is from a poorly designed medical pouch sealer. Webb points out “If these heat sealers fail, the medical device that is contained in the pouch could lose sterility in transit and could cause an infection to the patient”.
Webb says, “The best way to manage the risk of a non-sterile medical device reaching a patient is through regular pouch testing and inspection, it’s truly the best weapon that medical device manufacturers have to thwart medical device contamination.” Van der Stahl Scientific has developed a medical pouch sealing machine that seals the medical devices pouch but also contains a medical pouch testing lab within the heat sealer. Van der Stahl Scientific aim was to create a complete solution for packaging and testing with total control integration.
Webb says “We even include a patented medical pouch visual inspection system so operators can visually inspect the pouches seal throughout the day as well as perform the destructive testing using the ASTM F-88 industry pouch testing standard. With everything contained in one location, the device encourages regular testing and inspection.” Webb says that their device the (MS-451 medical pouch sealer and testing system) can even be scheduled to require operators to test pouches through multiple events throughout the day. If for some reason, the seal strength testing faults, the machine will not allow the operator to continue to seal until a quality team engineer can investigate potential causation.
Webb says “This is a game-changer for medical device packages. It literally firewalls, potential seal faults that could ultimately risk a patient’s life.” It’s systems like this, that are helping to turn the infection numbers around in the US. Hospitals. Administrators will continue to push for greater patient safety starting with the simple things like hand washing and hygiene. With better management systems for this problem, as well as innovative devices like the MS- 451, Webb says, “Hospitals and medical device manufacturers have really stepped up to this challenging problem.
It is so hearting to see so much amazing American technologies seeping into the hospitals to crush this problem. I believe innovations such as data logging hand washing systems, microprocessor controlled smart packaging machinery as well as real-time pathogen monitoring will squelch the nosocomial infections in the next 5 years”. We all may be able to breathe a little more easily as we are seeing solid progress being made on the front lines of infection control at the hospital and clinic. Healthcare-associated infections dropped by 16% between 2011 and 2015, this is solid evidence that progress is being made but this battle is far from over.