Reducing Epidemic Proportions

Yehuda Carmeli has developed a security system for preventing hospital epidemics. Integrating basic sanitary procedures, his system uses the tools of high-tech communication email alerts, SMS’s, and online communication to alert hospital staff of potential threats.

Two years ago, Carmeli’s team adopted this system in their own institutions, and the work paid off. “We stopped forty-five percent of the primary hospital-borne organisms that attack patients from spreading,” says Carmeli.

The first step to fighting hospital epidemics, Carmeli says, is the identification of potentially contagious patients. “What we have done is built a computerised 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 explains.

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

“When a patient comes to the hospital for treatment, the natural barriers that protect them against infection are bypassed,” says Carmeli. “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.”

MEDICA.de; Source: American Friends of Tel Aviv University