Category: Healthcare-Associated Infections (HAIs)

Healthcare-Associated Infections: Overabundant and Underreported

It’s hard to turn on the news without hearing something about new advances in cancer research, or a recent car accident that has claimed the life of an innocent victim. While these examples are serious and noteworthy issues that deserve media attention. Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) are the reason why approximately 99,000 people die annually in the United States alone, yet this issue receives little media attention compared to other diseases and events. As the ability to control and prevent such infections increases, the occurrence of HAIs becomes more and more unacceptable.
HAIs are a major problem, causing nearly 1.7 million infections annually and up to $45 billion in additional costs in the US healthcare system alone. Emotionally and financially devastating to those involved, the majority of such infections are preventable. While progress has been made recently to combat such infections, more general awareness needs to be raised in order for patients and their families to understand the risks they face while receiving healthcare, and what can be done to protect those at risk.

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Healthcare-Associated Infections: A Silent Epidemic That Took My Father

In July of 2008, my father, Richard G. Croke Jr., went into the hospital for a surgery to remove a piece of his esophagus after being diagnosed with esophageal cancer the previous winter. While the initial chances of survival for this type of cancer were slim, six weeks of chemotherapy and radiation treatments left my dad cancer free. Although the esophagealectomy was an invasive procedure, we were told that the surgery would be the easy part of his journey now that he was cancer free.

The day after his surgery, I went to the hospital to visit him. He was up talking and cracking jokes in his usual manner. Everything seemed fine. Until we received a phone call from the hospital in the middle of the night saying that my dad was extremely ill and might not make it through the night. That was the beginning of the six weeks that changed our lives forever.

Upon entering his ICU room that night, my dad was full of almost 100 pounds of excess fluid, was attached to a number of IVs, and had a ventilator breathing for him. We were told that my dad was in septic shock, which was caused by MRSA entering the bloodstream through the contaminated central line on his foot. He spent six weeks in the hospital, and for a while was getting better until he caught C. diff about a month after the initial bout with sepsis.

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The Growing Temptation to Underreport Healthcare-associated Infections

Over the past decade, there has been much written about the rise of antibiotic resistant pathogens and the growing numbers of serious healthcare-associated infections. Some statistics have put the total cost of healthcare-associated infections at around $35-$45 billion dollars1. Infections associated with MRSA have been estimated to cost about $3-$4 billion2 and ventilator-associated pneumonia costs another $3 billion3. The truth is that we really do not know the extent of the problem or the associated costs, and this in itself is a problem. Whatever the number, we can all agree that the costs of healthcare-associated infections are an enormous drain on the economy, and this is prior to factoring in any of the socio-economic multiplier effects of HAIs due to death, loss of employment, impact on families/companies etc.

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Ondine To Launch Ventilator-Associated Pneumonia (VAP) Photodisinfection Clinical Study

We are thrilled to announce that the FDA has approved a human clinical study to investigate the use of photodisinfection to prevent ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP). VAP occurs when a lung infection develops in a patient ventilated with an endotracheal tube and continues to be the #1 cause of healthcare-associated infections in intensive care units. In the U.S alone, more than 1.3 million patients are mechanically ventilated every year. Of these patients, 10%-20% will develop ventilator-associated pneumonia, and up to half of them will die.

“A successful VAP study would represent a key step towards the commercialization of this new application of photodisinfection which utilizes Ondine’s patented technology and products…(our technology) has been proven to be highly effective at eliminating biofilms in ex vivo models, it is therefore ideally suited for the elimination of endotracheal tube biofilms resulting in the prevention of VAP” says Carolyn Cross, Chairman & CEO of Ondine.

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Healthcare-associated Infections: A Preventable Worldwide Problem

Healthcare-associated infections occur when a patient acquires an infection during the course of treatment at, or a visit to, a healthcare facility

Globally, healthcare-associated infections involve millions of people and kill hundreds of thousands of people annually. Available statistics suggest that 8,500 to 12,000 Canadians will die from HAIs every year1, making these infections one of the largest killers in Canada.

Healthcare-associated infections occur when a patient acquires an infection during the course of treatment at, or a visit to, a healthcare facility. It is classified as an HAI once doctors have ruled out that the patient did not enter the healthcare facility with this infection present. The duration of the infection has to be at least 48 hours to be considered an HAI2. In some unfortunate situations where the patient is admitted for less than 48 hours, the infection will not show up until after the patient has been released from the hospital. These HAIs may not be included in the statistics. Read More

Catheter-Associated UTIs: How Infection Occurs

Urinary tract infections are one of the most common healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) in the US, accounting for 30% of all reported cases.  Approximately 75% of these UTIs are associated with the use of urinary catheters1, which are called catheter-associated UTIs. Patients with long term catheterization have been shown to have a higher risk of developing a catheter-associated biofilm infection.

In the US, more than five million hospital and nursing home patients require urinary catheterization every year2. This process is illustrated in the images above. During urinary catheterization, a thin flexible plastic tube is lubricated and inserted into a patient’s urethra. Once the catheter enters the bladder, a small balloon is inflated to hold the tube in place. A urine drainage bag with an emptying spout is connected to the external end of the catheter. This end collects the urine. Read More

New Application of Photodynamic Disinfection to be Funded by UK’s Medical Research Council: Catheter-Associated Infection Prevention

Today we announced a significant new opportunity for both our company and for the Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) world. By awarding our groups a £ 1 million award to develop PDT based products to prevent catheter associated infections, the UK Government has validated the need for solutions as well as endorsed the potential of Photodynamic Therapy in this role.

Together with a team of multi-disciplined experts at University College London (UCL), Ondine will collaborate on an important new initiative which leverages our combined 30 plus years of history in photodynamics to develop a new major class of medical devices based on Photodynamic disinfection. The new class of products will address the multi-billion dollar issue of catheter-associated infections, firmly placing Ondine as a leading supplier of innovative non-antibiotic products addressing  the $35-$45 billion per year healthcare-associated infection (HAI) market1. Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are considered to be the largest source of HAIs, representing about 30% of all reported cases, with catheter-associated UTIs representing 75% of this number. Read More

Prevention of catheter-associated UTI is focus of new CDC Guidelines

Last year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a national guideline on the prevention of catheter-associated UTIs. Dr. Carolyn Gould, the primary author of these guidelines, has blogged to bring awareness to this growing group of infections. In her post, she calls catheter-associated UTIs “one of the most common, yet most preventable” types of healthcare-associated infections.

The new CDC guideline for the prevention of catheter-associated UTIs is an updated and expanded version of the original published thirty years ago. Today, urinary tract infections are the #1 most common healthcare-associated infection. They account for 30% of all reported cases of HAIs and are responsible for killing an estimated 13,000 Americans every year2. Read More

Top healthcare-associated infections: UTI, VAP, SSI

Urinary tract infections, ventilator associated pneumonia and surgical site infections are three of the top HAIs

Healthcare-associated infections cost the US healthcare system a shocking $35-$45 billion each year1. There are many different types of HAIs that contribute to this disturbingly high number. Let’s focus on three of the top HAIs that are demanding immediate public attention:

  1. Urinary tract infections
  2. Ventilator associated pneumonia
  3. Surgical site infections Read More

Healthcare-Associated Infections: A $35-$45 billion problem

“Healthcare-associated infections are one of the biggest causes of avoidable harm and unnecessary death in the developed world” – World Health Organization

Healthcare-associated infections kill more than 99,000 people every year

Over the next few blog posts, we’ll be discussing a group of infections known as healthcare-associated infections, or HAIs. In the US alone, more than 99,000 people die each year from these infections1. While this cost on human life is high, the financial toll is equally staggering . The World Health Organization has called the HAIs one of the biggest causes of avoidable harm and unnecessary deaths in the developed world. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that HAIs add $35-$45 billion in costs to the US healthcare system each year2. As such, healthcare-associated infections have become a costly public health concern that demands immediate attention.

HAIs occur when a patient acquires an infection during the course of treatment at, or a visit to, a healthcare facility. After a patient acquires a HAI, the ramifications are often excessively expensive and deadly. In fact, HAIs are responsible for more deaths each year than car accidents, breast cancer, anorexia or AIDS. On average, they add 19 days to a patient’s hospital stay, and increase medical expenses by more than $45,0003. Read More

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