Did You Know?
About Using Medical Polymers
Reduce Hospital-Acquired Infections
Hospital Acquired Infections (HAIs)
affect millions of people around the world and cost healthcare
systems billions. Whether the cause is reduced staffing in
hospitals (resulting in less time for healthcare workers to
thoroughly disinfect between patient visits), the increasing
resistance of certain pathogens to current sterilization
procedures, or any of a dozen other reasons, this problem
continues to affect patients needing healthcare.
Catheter Acquired Urinary Tract
Infections (CAUTIs) are the single largest cause of hospital
acquired infections today. This is because it is common for bacteria
biofilms to form on the catheter surface, leading to damage,
inflammation and infection via the adjacent tissues. Biofilms are
thin layers of microorganisms, usually protozoa and bacteria, which
colonise exposed surfaces of medical devices.
Antibacterial coatings, whether silver
or antibiotic impregnated, are intended to kill the biofilms once
they have formed, minimising damage to exposed tissue. In practice,
however, this approach is ineffective at preventing the growth of
bacterial biofilms - existing coated catheters on the market have
not reduced CAUTIs
Using Polymers to Reduce Infections
The use of plastic medical devices
helps caregivers to control the HAI problem because of features like
: cleanliness, sterility, convenience, ease of use, and low cost.
There is a need to do more in controlling and reducing infections,
and one way to help improve outcomes is through the use of
antimicrobial plastics in the construction of various medical
devices. Rather than aiming to kill bacteria, researchers looked to
better protect against HAIs by changing the physical properties of
surfaces to make them inhospitable to bacteria.
Polymers and, more specifically, the
proper selection of such materials for manufacturing of medical
devices, will continue to be a factor in helping control
hospital-acquired infections, and provide better patient safety,
improved healthcare, and reduced operating costs.
Whether the improvement comes from
surface-bound or released antimicrobials in medical device plastics;
from the use of more resistant polymers; or from better design that
allows more effective cleaning and longer useful life of the plastic
products, the improved outcomes will be a welcome trend in reduction
in the frequency of HAIs.