Looking at HAIs: More Problems

November 16, 2015

Forlorn Womn In HospitalRemember the superbug outbreak linked to endoscopes? Basically, endoscopes were collecting germs (particularly CRE) and passing them between patients—despite following manufacturer and FDA directions.

The initial analysis(/assumption) was that it was related to the grooves in the scopes, and hospitals promised to go above and beyond the bare recommendations to prevent future outbreaks.

After months of tracking the spread of infection, we have another culprit: the machines used to “clean” the scopes. Following manual cleaning the machines wash the scopes with disinfectant

The FDA has ordered a recall by the manufacturer (who has been in trouble with the FDA before—since at least 2007 there has been some level of awareness that the machines are not adequate for cleaning endoscopes, and struggles between them and the FDA over following regulations, including proving/certifying the machines can clean scopes). At this point, the FDA is telling the 1,000+ hospitals who use the machine to move to another brand.

While it looks like the outbreak has the silver lining that research is being done into HAIs that may save lives (1 in 25 hospital patients get one or more HAIs), it’s a good indicator that the problem of Hospital Acquired Infections runs deep. While the top level involves surfaces (some companies are turning to colloidal silver to solve the problem!), doctors making sure to wash their hands, and better patient care—having important machines (they ensure a quick turnaround on endoscopes to service more patients) identified as problems is going to mean a more thorough overhaul is needed. (Outside hospitals settings even washing machines can harbor MRSA).

Of course, looking at the root causes of antibiotic resistance is important, too!

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