Anesthesiologists Must Strive To Improve Infection Control
A recent session held by the New York State Society of Anesthesiologists during their 68th Annual Post Graduate Assembly bubbled up a discussion about infection control in the industry. Anesthesiologists face challenges when it comes to preventing healthcare acquired infections, because the tools they use, such as a laryngoscope, are often the culprits in cross-contamination cases. The message from this assembly was the anesthesiology community needed to work harder to prevent the spread of infections.
Why Anesthesia Creates a Risk?
A 2008 article in Anaesthesia states that the equipment used in this practice is a potential vector for transmission of disease.
- Self-inflating resuscitation bags
- Fiberoptic bronchoscopes
- Oral and nasal airways
- Esophageal temperature probes
Reusable equipment like this requires decontamination that costs money and takes time.
The New York group discussed an article published in the June 2014 Anesthesia & Analgesia. The story quotes a within and between-case Enterococcus faecalis transmission rate of 11 to 23 percent in the industry. There is also an increase in the hepatitis B and C outbreaks over the last 15 years.
What Anesthesiologist Can Do Better
Despite already rigorous infection control standards, there is clear evidence that anesthesiologists can do more to prevent cross-contamination. Elliott Greene, MD, professor of anesthesiology at Albany Medical College, indicates that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention documented cases that stemmed from:
- Reuse of a syringe, cannula or needle
- Use of a contaminated syringe, cannula or needle
- Use of single-use containers for more than one patient
- Preparation of medications in contaminated workspaces
Hand hygiene is another concern. At Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, researchers cultured the hands of anesthesiologists to demonstrate how critical washing is to maintaining infection control.
The Problem with Laryngoscopes
Laryngoscopes are a particular hazard in this industry because they are difficult to clean properly. Organic matter can get caught in handles and other reusable components. One simple and cost effective way to eliminate some of the threats for anesthesiologists is to stock single-use laryngoscopes instead of relying on multiple use devices.
A 2010 study published in the Journal of Hospital Infections tested 64 laryngoscope handles that had been put back into inventory after sterilization. Researchers found at least one species of bacteria on 86 percent of the handles.
With a single-use device like OBP Medical’s SURE-SCOPE, the handle, light source and blade are all disposable. This eliminates the needs for reprocessing and saves on overall costs. The one piece design also saves time during rapid sequence induction of anesthesia.
Single-use laryngoscopes have advanced on-board light sources that improve visualization, ergonomic designs for better control and come in sterile packaging that reduces the risk of cross-contamination.
The long-term consequences of healthcare associated infections are devastating to both patients and the medical community, One in every 25 hospitalizations results in a healthcare associated infection, according to the CDC. That adds up to over 700,000 infections each year at acute care hospitals around the country.
The annual direct medical costs of these largely preventable infections range from 28.4 to 33.8 billion dollars. Compare that to the expense of better infection control education and enhanced equipment like single-use devices and the benefits of cross-contamination prevention become clear.