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Making hospitals safer from infection




One small water line feeding one hospital faucet alone can house millions of bacteria, said international Legionella expert Janet Stout, Ph.D., urging public health and infection control officers to be proactive against Legionella and other waterborne microbes that contribute to soaring hospital infection rates. Communities of waterborne pathogens, known as biofilm, can line every pipe in every water distribution system of every hospital, making their way into faucets, ice machines and showers, where the water may infect patients. In the December 2007 issue of Managing Infection Control, Dr. Stout, Director of the Special Pathogens Laboratory and Associate Professor at the University of Pittsburgh, offers a prescription for prevention and remediation.



Making hospitals safer from infection

Infections acquired in healthcare settings are not confined to hospitals. Nursing homes, rehabilitation centers and other long-term care facilities are equally vulnerable. In the article, Understanding and Controlling Waterborne Pathogens: Applying Lessons Learned from Legionella, Dr. Stout notes: Those most at risk from these unseen microbes are the people who are owed a higher level of care premature infants and newborns, the elderly, people undergoing cancer therapy or with compromised immune systems, transplant recipients and patients in Intensive Care Units (ICUs).

Dr. Stout outlines a protocol for prevention and discusses the technologies found most effective in controlling exposure to waterborne microbes copper/silver ionization, chlorine dioxide and point-of-use filtration by Pall-Aquasafe filters. The best solution, she says, is likely to be a combination of chemical or physical disinfection together with point-of-use filtration. Dr. Stout also presents a surprising finding. She reports on studies showing that electronic, non-touch faucets, which would appear to be a logical solution, have been shown to be a source of dangerous germs that can cause serious pneumonia and other infections.


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One small water line feeding one hospital faucet alone can house millions of bacteria, said international Legionella expert Janet Stout, Ph.D., urging public health and infection control officers to be proactive against Legionella and other waterborne microbes that contribute to soaring hospital infection rates. Communities of waterborne pathogens, known as biofilm, can line every pipe in every water distribution system of every hospital, making their way into faucets, ice machines and showers, where the water may infect patients. In the December 2007 issue of Managing Infection Control, Dr. Stout, Director of the Special Pathogens Laboratory and Associate Professor at the University of Pittsburgh, offers a prescription for prevention and remediation.

Medicineworld.org: Making hospitals safer from infection

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