Hospital-related Infections may be Cut by 50pct by Innovative Software

by Hannah Punitha on Nov 7 2008 5:54 PM

Tel Aviv University researchers have written a piece of software that they believe may help reduce hospital-related infections by 50 per cent.

Professor Yehuda Carmeli of the Sackler Faculty of Medicine, who has developed the high-tech software program, says that his security system works by integrating basic sanitary procedures.

He says that the novel system uses the tools of high-tech communication like email alerts, SMS's, and online communication to alert hospital staff of potential threats.

His team had adopted this system in their own institutions two years ago.

"We stopped forty-five percent of the primary hospital-borne organisms that attack patients from spreading," says Carmeli.

In his most recent paper on the topic, published in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, Carmeli has revealed that top medical centers in the United States are asking for his help.

He even demonstrated his system at the medical schools at Ohio State University and Philadelphia's Temple University recently.

According to him, identifying potentially contagious patients is the first step to fighting hospital epidemics.

"What we have done is built a computerized system that collects information from microbial lab cultures and sends real-time alerts and reminders to the wards every day. The system also allows nurses and doctors to send feedback so infections are closely monitored, with special patients being handled very differently from the others," he says.

Carmeli suggests that medical practitioners be reminded to use simple measures such as improved hand washing and hygiene techniques, an obvious first line of defense against infection that are not practiced as much as they should be.

He also recommends that nurses keep an alcohol-based cream solution next to each patient's bed for ease of use, and to wear masks and gloves while handling certain patients.

"When a patient comes to the hospital for treatment, the natural barriers that protect them against infection are bypassed," says Carmeli, who is also a physician at the Tel-Aviv Sourasky Medical Center.

"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.

"A large proportion of these infections are preventable," he adds.

In the research setting, Prof. Carmeli investigates the biological processes of how anti-microbial resistant organisms are spread.

His team investigates a number of systems in the hope of creating super-drugs that could one day make hospital-borne infections a thing of the past.