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Safer equipment can help control infections

March 24, 2015

Identifying new methods of reducing the rate of infections in hospitals, as well as improving older techniques, is crucial for keeping both patients and healthcare workers safe. This also affects the standard of care that doctors and nurses are able to deliver to each person that needs their care.

The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released a new blog post, which highlights the importance of maintaining good sharps practices in hospitals, and the impact this can have on infections.

Dr Michael Bell, deputy director of CDC's division of healthcare quality promotion, said tackling antibiotic-resistant infections and protecting patients are top priorities for those in healthcare, with the recent 2016 Budget from president Barack Obama highlighting the importance of investing in efforts that aim to prevent antibiotic resistance.

The recent announcement of $1.2 billion shows a significant increase in interest in this area, nearly doubling previous funding from the US government. It has also recently issued the National Strategy on Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria, outlining key measures the government will take to improve its ability to prevent, detect and take control of resistant strains of some of the world's most threatening diseases.
Dr Bell writes that outbreaks of CRE (carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae) recently have been linked to a type of endoscope called a duodenoscope, which highlights the importance of having rapid responses to new threats to patient health. 

"In the past when outbreaks related to the use of these scopes have occurred, they have been attributed to failure to follow duodenoscope manufacturer-recommended cleaning protocols. The fact that recent outbreaks have occurred without identified lapses of infection control is a call for action," he added.

After consultation with healthcare facilities, professionals partners, and stakeholders, the CDC has launched a new  to interim protocol for facilities that want to ensure all their medical equipment and instruments are safe.

The protocol provides a detailed plan for how healthcare workers can best determine whether or not equipment is safe, but does not serve as a replacement for training. However, it can be a brilliant way to detect contamination and whether staff are adhering to the best practices. This can enable wider organisations to prompt specific training sessions.

Dr Bell said like many proposed solutions to infections, there are pros and cons associated with the method, with costs commonly being cited as equipment will be out of use while it is being tested. 

However, like the investment of safety devices, the upfront cost could help prevent having to channel finances in the long term.

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