November 6, 2008

High-Tech System to Reduce Infections

Tel Aviv University researchers say they have developed a high-tech communication system to help stem the number of hospital-acquired infections.

Yehuda Carmeli of the Sackler Faculty of Medicine at Tel Aviv University said that the security system for preventing hospital-acquired infections integrates basic sanitary procedures, e-mail alerts and online communication to alert hospital staff of potential threats.

"We stopped 45 percent of the primary hospital-borne organisms that attack patients from spreading," Carmeli said in a statement.

Carmeli, who is being sought by U.S. hospitals to advise how to reduce hospital-acquired infections, said that the first step is the identification of potentially contagious patients.

"What we have done is built a computerized system that collects information from microbial lab cultures and sends real-time alerts and reminders to the wards every day," Carmeli said in a statement.

"The system also allows nurses and doctors to send feedback so infections are closely monitored, with special patients being handled very differently from the others."

Carmeli also uses the system to remind medical practitioners to use simple measures they already know such as hand washing. After heart disease, hospital-related infections are second highest highest killer of hospitalized Americans, but many of the infections are preventable, Carmeli said.

Carmeli's most recent paper appeared in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy.