Being concerned about acquiring an infection during a hospital stay – even a brief one – certainly doesn’t make someone a “germophobe.” In fact, some 100,000 people die from hospital-acquired infection (HAI) complications every year.
Some two-thirds of HAIs are spread through medical devices. This includes catheters, stents, IVs, respirators, ventilators, pacemakers and more. Lack of proper sterilization is often the culprit. Microbes form something called “biofilms” on these devices, and they can easily spread throughout a person’s body.
This biofilm is highly resistant to antibiotics. Therefore, only the strongest ones can effectively treat them. Of course, the danger with using increasingly stronger antibiotics is that we end up with “superbugs” that are virtually untreatable with antibiotics.
A special coating for medical devices
Researchers led by a team at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) are working to develop a special coating for devices that would “prevent or minimize the growth of biofilm without the use of antibiotics,” according to someone involved with the research. The coating, which includes molecules called “zwitterions,” is sprayed on. Then ultraviolet light is used to bind it to the device. It’s been shown to reduce biofilm on medical devices by over 90%.
So far, catheters with this coating are the only devices to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Others with this coating and coatings being worked on elsewhere are likely to follow.
Always watch for signs of HAIs
It can be difficult to determine exactly how an infection started. HAIs typically are noticeable while a patient is in the hospital or within a couple of days after release. It’s crucial to let your doctor know of any signs of an HAI so they can begin treatment immediately.
If you believe that you or a loved one acquired a serious HAI due to the possible negligence of medical professionals, it’s wise to seek experienced legal guidance to determine your best course of action.