Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Fight Against Hospital Infections

I've made no bones about it, America's healthcare system is very FUBAR. I concentrate on rising costs in Fubarnomics but in this post want to stress the quality issue, or rather the lack of it. Under our current system, many people die or suffer serious complications from infections they contract while in the hospital. It's a tragic (and extremely expensive) problem.

There is some hope, however. Today at the Innovation Expo in Sioux Falls an entrepreneurial start-up outfit from suburban Minneapolis, Minn. called Pursuit Vascular won not one but two prizes for a new medical device that promises to significantly reduce catheter-related infections for dialysis patients. Basically, it is an expandable tube coated with an anti-microbial that effectively seals the catheter and kills most of the nasty bugs inside it.

It was also mentioned at the expo that an anti-microbial paint is being developed here in South Dakota. Applied to hospital walls and such, the paint could also work to reduce the infection rate.

My only concern is that private insurers don't seem to have much of an incentive to force HCPs to adopt these technologies and in fact the in-hospital infection rate could be reduced pretty substantially simply by adopting and following better sanitary procedures.

Readers interested in learning more about the fight against hospital infections are encouraged to visit Kimberly-Clark's "Not on My Watch" website.