An increased focus on barriers in the hospital setting is key to infection control according to a recent article, posted on infectioncontrol.tips, a website dedicated to sharing research and information relevant to infection control. The article specifically highlights how personal protective equipment (PPE) prevents the spread of infection between patients and hospital staff by creating a barrier between infectious materials (such as viral and bacterial contaminants found in patients and surrounding environment) and mucous membranes such as skin, mouth, nose and eyes. But why should we stop there? Why shouldn’t we consider creating these barriers between those same potentially infectious materials and the medical devices used in procedures?
Why good enough, really isn’t
Throughout the history of medicine, advances have often come as reactions to tragedies rather than proactive preventions. Regularly washing your hands or wearing protective gloves used to be a foreign concept, but a long string of infections and deaths lead to those becoming common practice. With the increasing prevalence of “superbugs” and hospital based infections, identifying the problem areas and finding ways to prevent infections is coming more and more to the center spotlight.
Even today, this “good enough” mentality still prevails when it comes to certain parts of medicine. Whether it is a lack of understanding of new technology or a fear of change, something slows the adoption of new and potentially practice altering products and techniques. Some experts feel that one such example can be found in flexible endoscopy where high level disinfection (HLD) is still considered “good enough” for semi-critical devices. This remains true despite growing research to suggest that HLD is not actually enough, even when it is done properly; as well as advances in technology, and a growing number of endoscope related infections.
Future toll of “Superbugs”
We are at, what the author of the article refers to as, “a critical time for humankind,” as the financial and lethal toll that “superbugs” or antibiotic resistant bacteria are projected to have on the world is astounding. The author sites the World Health Organization (WHO) in noting that by 2050 the estimated financial toll of treating superbugs is projected to be $100 TRILLION annually. In addition to that, the WHO also estimate that the death toll due specifically to superbugs will reach 100 million deaths per year by 2050. That number equates to one new infection every 3 seconds and far surpasses the mortality rates for HIV, cancer, and heart disease.
How EndoSheath helps in the fight
EndoSheath Protective Barrier is one piece of technology that can help in the fight to prevent infections during flexible endoscopy. EndoSheath creates a sterile barrier around the PrimeSight flexible endoscope, completely isolating the scope and ensuring it never comes in contact with the patient. EndoSheath is impermeable to microorganisms as small as 27 nanometers, and every EndoSheath is 100% leak tested during manufacturing. This single-use microbial barrier contains the ports, seals, and working channel, meaning that there is no need for scrubbing and flushing, and no worries that there may still be contaminant left behind for the next patient. In the fight against hospital acquired infections, sterile barriers like EndoSheath are proving to be a powerful tool.
Learn more about the use of microbial barriers in endoscopy by taking this 2.0 credit CE program titled “Connecting Innovation to Need: Microbial Barrier Sheaths for Endoscopes.” And also be sure to check out the Path to Sterile Endoscopy webinar series which focuses on the current state of reprocessing and how EndoSheath can help with infection prevention efforts.