Over the past quarter of the century, there has been a growing concern over health-care-association infections (HAIs) which have placed the prevention of this infection at the fore of different health initiatives to improve the quality of healthcare delivery. The introduction of new medical and surgical equipment to prevent these infections coupled with innovations in infection deterrence mechanisms have done little to decrease the problems associated with HAIs, as they continue to plague the healthcare industry.
WHAT ARE HAIS?
HAIs are infections that patients get while receiving treatment for medical or surgical conditions, and many HAIs are preventable. Modern healthcare employs many types of invasive devices and procedures to treat patients and to help them recover.
Another challenge that healthcare organizations currently face is the increasing pressure to reduce costs. The link between both challenges is covert, but it is there. One major trend is the shift to sterile, single-use instruments to reduce HAIs and cross-contamination, as well as the costs associated with the cleaning and sterilizing of reusable instruments, the standard of regular practices which are noted to be a direct link to HAIs.
The most common type of HAIs is Surgical Site Infections (SSIs) which occur during surgical procedures. According to a Report in 2015 conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the U.S, SSIs account for 31% of all HAIs. 3% of these patients die, and 75% of these deaths are directly attributed to the SSI. The financial implications of SSIs amount to more than $4 billion every year.
With the current technological advancements currently being witnessed around different industries, the healthcare industry included, the use of micro-instrumentation to perform less invasive procedures is growing at an increased pace. Before the turn of the new century, medical and surgical instruments were simpler, bigger and generally easier to clean with minimal time and effort required to successfully sterilize in order to prevent infection. The new shift to smaller instruments has created new challenges which generally stem from the difficulty in sterilizing them. This further leads to the complication of reprocessing instruments.