In Tuesday’s post, I talked a little about the history of antibiotics and MDROs. While the article might have felt apocalyptic in its pronouncement of the future and our inability to handle the ever increasing threat of superbugs, the reality is that the future might not actually be as bleak as current evidence suggests.
Certainly, the lack of new, effective antibiotics is disconcerting. Thanks to overuse, misuse, and altogether abuse, bacteria are quickly becoming more and more resistant to our safest and most widely used antibiotics.
While relatively few useful antibiotics have been developed over the last 30 years, researchers have found other ways to defend facilities from the onset of pathogens.
Some of these new anti-infections weapons include the use of advanced room disinfection devices like Xenex and minimally invasive procedures like fecal transplants which replace bad bacteria with healthy ones. While fecal transplants are a reactive response to infections like C.diff (the current baddy of baddies in the HAI world), devices like Xenex approach the problem from a preventive stance.
One great example of how this preventive device saves lives can be found in the case example of Cooley Dickinson hospital in North Hampton Massachusetts.
Before implementing Xenex in 2011, Cooley Dickinson had a problem with C.diff much like the rest of the country. Although the facility is much safer than the average American hospital (roughly 1% of Cooley’s patients acquire an HAI during their stay vs. the 5% national average) they had an abnormally high level of C.diff cases.
Each year in this country, roughly 165,000 Americans acquire C.diff, a stomach bug that kills a little over 5% of its victims and causes diarrhea throughout the day mixed with kidney failure, dehydration, nausea, and a fever.
According to Joanne Levin, Medical Director and Infection Preventionist at Cooley Dickinson, C.diff is on the rise and disease and death from this infection has risen dramatically. “One type of C.diff germ has a hard shell, like a seed, that protects it from many traditional cleaning products and it can live in an environment for a month or more. Because of its nature, C.diff is a nightmare for hospitals, is difficult to eliminate, and almost impossible to determine the initial carrier.
While Cooley continued to clean hospital rooms with traditional products, in 2011, they also began using Xenex after discharges.
“In the first three months, our rate dropped 83 percent, which is unheard of. Over the course of the year it wasn’t quite as low, but by the end of the year we were down to 53 percent, even that is huge to drop by half. We thought that in the first year we had prevented five infections and possibly one or two deaths,” said Dr. Joanne Levin.
Cooley’s success has been so dramatic they recently published an article on their findings in the American Journal of Infection Control and plan to begin using Xenex after every discharge and in every room where a patient could potentially come in contact with the bacteria.
While Cooley is very serious about continuing to find ways to reduce patient contact with MRDO’s by using a combination of Xenex and best hygiene practices, for the time being, they are just excited about throwing their little robot a surprise party for its 2nd birthday.
Xenex is a company on a mission to eradicate the harmful bacteria and viruses that cause the healthcare associated infections which take countless lives around the world every day. While we produce a robot that is used to disinfect hospital rooms, we also think it is critical to inform, support, and arm the general public with the tools and knowledge necessary to help them navigate the tough and often complicated worlds of infection control and health.
John Burnam is a freelance copywriter fortunate enough to be learning a lot about the scary world of superbugs from the smart folks at Xenex Disinfection Services. In his spare time, you can catch him traveling, drinking coffee, and hanging out with his wife and friends.