New Device Hopes to Lessen Healthcare-Associated Infections (HAIs)
Published on September 17, 2015
Modern healthcare employs many types of invasive devices and procedures to treat patients and to help them recover. But things don’t always go as planned, and these devices and procedures can lead to infections.
These healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) may include central line-associated bloodstream infections, catheter-associated urinary tract infections, and ventilator-associated pneumonia. Infections may also occur at surgery sites, known as surgical site infections. HAIs affect an estimated 1 in 25 hospital patients on any given day and many are preventable.
Researchers from the University of Southampton are hoping to help lessen the likelihood of infection with a new ultrasonic device that cleans medical instruments.
StarStream, the device invented and patented by the University of Southampton and in commercial production by Ultrawave Ltd., makes water more efficient for cleaning by creating tiny bubbles that automatically scrub surfaces.
The device works by supplying a gentle stream of water through a nozzle that generates ultrasound and bubbles, which dramatically improves the cleaning power of water and reduces the need for additives (which reduces pollution risk and cost) and heating (which saves energy).
Using only cold water, StarStream was able to remove biological contamination, including brain tissue from surgical steel. It was also able to remove bacterial biofilms that typically cause dental disease and was effective in removing soft tissue from bones, which is required prior to transplants to prevent rejection of the transplanted material by the patient’s immune system.
StarStream can also be used for hand washing. Their goal: to make 6 seconds of washing with StarStream as effective as 20 seconds of hand washing in hot, soapy water. Hand hygiene contributes significantly to keeping patients safe. It is a simple, low-cost action to prevent the spread of many of the microbes that cause HAIs. While hand hygiene is not the only measure to counter HAI, improvement in hand washing can significantly improve patient safety.
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