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Risk of superbug outbreak increased by reprocessing failure

Risk of superbug outbreak increased by reprocessing failure

The threat of hospital superbugs infecting patients, although small, remains a concern for those in the medical field. As outlined by the Mayo Clinic, when certain types of bacteria evolve to become resistant to the effects of antibiotics, they become known as superbugs. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explained that as many as 1 in 7 infections that are acquired in a hospital setting (HAIs) can be attributed to a strain of bacteria that has grown antibiotic resistant. This is despite the rigorous government-mandated hygiene and cleanliness policies that all reputable medical facilities surely follow.

Superbugs, much like less-aggressive forms of HAIs, according to the Mayo Clinic, can lead to potentially life-threatening illnesses such as skin infections and pneumonia.

Los Angeles Times shines light on a deadly problem
Highlighting the need to take as many steps as possible to prevent their development and spread among vulnerable patient populations, a recent article from the Los Angeles Times found that, in the state of California alone, as many as 9,000 fatalities annually can be attributed to superbugs acquired in the hospital setting. The figure is alarming, but as the article makes clear, the statistics are by no means common knowledge. This is because there are no laws in California that require hospitals to report deaths from HAI and superbug infections, meaning that there is a deficit of information regarding how prevalent the problem really is. Indeed, the article noted that medical facilities are not even required to alert authorities when superbug infections take place. 

"In California alone, 9,000 fatalities annually can be attributed to superbugs."

The question remains – why are superbug infections such a concern when strict hygiene protocols are in place? There are several notable reasons, but as highlighted by an article from the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists, a number of crucial studies have indicated that routine disinfection efforts are often unable to fully remove bacteria and DNA from reusable medical instruments. Illustrating this point, the Los Angeles Times, reporting on a study from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, explained that hundreds of patients globally were treated with infected gastrointestinal scopes in the five year period between 2010-2015.

The spread of bacteria in this way, however, cannot necessarily be attributed to human carelessness alone. As the Los Angles Times article emphasized, although disinfection mandates in medical settings are often closely adhered to, such procedures are usually unsuccessful at completely removing bacteria and other traces of patient DNA. This is especially true when it comes to scopes, as they easily come into contact with traces of human DNA, in the form of saliva, mucus and blood.

Superbugs present a major threat to already sick patients.Superbugs present a major threat to already sick patients.

Single use tools an effective solution
The Los Angeles Times reported that some medical professionals are beginning to employ single-use scopes and other single-use medical tools in a bid to reduce the rates of superbug and HAI infection – a move that will no doubt be welcomed by patients. As engineering director Chris Lavanchy from the nonprofit ECRI Institute told the Los Angeles Times, "If you can tell patients we have a disposable device so there's really no chance of infection, that has to be very appealing. This could allay public fears."

Consider OBP Medical
Single-use tools virtually eliminate the risk of cross-contamination, and carry an array of other benefits. For example, single-use tools are easier to use, more cost-effective in the long-term and more efficient for medical providers. 

If your medical facility is considering making the switch from ​reusable to single-use devices, consider turning to OBP Medical. From single-use anoscopes to single-use vaginal speculums, we carry a range of instruments that can help keep your patients safe from the dangers of superbugs and HAIs. To learn more and request free samples, click here