Infection Prevention a Top Priority for Companies

Maria Fontanazza

August 1, 2009

2 Min Read
Infection Prevention a Top Priority for Companies

News Trends


The Spectrum Turbo-Ject PICC uses antibiotics to prevent catheter-related bloodstream infections. Photo courtesy of COOK MEDICAL

In response to CMS's rule change regarding reimbursement for hospital-acquired infections (HAIs), medical device companies are adopting technologies that address prevention.


“The biggest impact that [the ruling] had on hospitals is that it got people talking about what they're doing to prevent infections and what steps they need to take,” says Tyson Rugenstein, senior global product manager of Cook Medical's (Bloomington, IN) interventional radiology strategic business unit. “CMS has put the spotlight on it here in the United States. Hospitals are realizing that it's no longer just a healthcare [issue], but that it's going to hit them financially.”
For example, costs associated with treating catheter-related bloodstream infections average from $34,500 to $56,000 each, according to CDC. In addition to the discussion surrounding what precautions practitioners can take, device manufacturers are implementing new initiatives and developing technologies that tackle patient safety and prevent infections.
Last spring, Cook launched a peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC) that uses antibiotics to prevent bloodstream infections. By impregnating two antibiotics, minocycline and rifampin, into the catheter material, this first-of-its-kind device works to fight dangerous bacteria that can lead to infections like methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and vancomycin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (VRSA). The device is currently available in the United States.
Programs that provide funding to centers focusing on prevention also provide an incentive to work on this issue. In June, the Cardinal Health Foundation (Dublin, OH) granted $1 million in funding to hospital programs that improve patient safety. Grants of up to $35,000 per site will be given to 35 hospitals, health systems, and clinics in the United States. The main criteria are that the programs address eliminating HAIs, especially MRSA, and have a goal of reducing conditions such as blood-site and surgical-site infections and ventilator-associated pneumonia.
“Medication safety and healthcare-associated infections are two of the largest patient safety issues that healthcare organizations face every day, and the human toll and financial burden is escalating,” says Shelly Bird, chair of the Cardinal Health Foundation, in a statement.
And while this might be a bit less conventional, a technology developed by researchers at the University of Florida (Gainesville) uses sensors to detect whether clinicians have washed their hands. The system, called HyGreen, can detect sanitizer or soap fumes emitted from hands. The real-time monitor also logs the frequency with which clinicians wash their hands and have contact with patients, and is available for review by supervisors at any time. HyGreen is being marketed by Xhale Inc. Copyright ©2009 Medical Device & Diagnostic Industry

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