High-tech system to cut hospital infections by half


London : Hospital-based infections continue to be the number-two killer in the US after heart disease.

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A new high-tech software programme developed by Tel Aviv University researchers will cut such infections by half.

Yehuda Carmeli professor at the Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv University (TAU), has developed a system for preventing hospital epidemics.

“When a patient comes to the hospital for treatment, the natural barriers that protect them against infection are bypassed,” said Carmeli, also a physician at the TAU Sourasky Medical Centre.

“Intubations, IV lines, catheters and other common hospital procedures expose a patient’s most delicate tissues to the world. If a patient is taking immunosuppressants, steroids, or antibiotics, this can be a dangerous cocktail, and infections are just waiting to attack,” he said.

Integrating basic sanitary procedures, his system uses the tools of high-tech communication email alerts, SMSs, and online communication to alert hospital staff of potential threats, according to a TAU release.

“We stopped 45 percent of the primary hospital-borne organisms that attack patients from spreading,” said Carmeli. He recently demonstrated his system at top medical centres at Ohio State University and Philadelphia’s Temple University.

Carmeli advised general practitioners to use simple measures. For example, improved hand washing and hygiene techniques, an obvious first line of defence against infection, are not practiced regularly.

He advised nurses to keep an alcohol-based cream solution next to each patient’s bed for ease of use. In some cases, visitors and nurses should wear masks and gloves when handling or visiting a patient.

These findings appeared in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy.