Survey highlights missed opportunities to reduce hospital acquired infections

Small changes can have a big impact, according to UK healthcare professionals

Nurses have a major role to play in the continuing fight against catheter-related blood stream infections (CRBSIs) after new research revealed that less than a third are aware of the major causes of the potentially life-threatening bugs.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recently reported that 300,000 patients a year contract healthcare acquired infections, with CRBSI’s accounting for nearly one in five reported cases. Each case costs the average UK hospital between £4,000 and £10,000.

Now a survey, commissioned by Ethicon, a Johnson & Johnson company, has revealed that of the 80% of healthcare professionals who are aware of CRBSIs, 73% believe them to be preventable. And more than two thirds of all nurses and anaesthetists said that simple interventions to prevent CRBSIs would lead to significant NHS savings.

There is a clear need for better awareness and understanding of CRBSIs and how to prevent them. Nurses, in particular, have a key role to play at the frontline of care in preventing the spread of infection

But, despite this, more than a third of respondents in the survey were either unaware of, or knew nothing about, CRBSIs and only 15% were aware that infection is mostly caused by the patient’s own skin. Awareness was particularly low among nurses, with nearly one in five having no awareness of CRBSIs and only 8% correctly citing the patient’s own skin as the major cause.

“There is a clear need for better awareness and understanding of CRBSIs and how to prevent them,” said Professor Robert Masterton, director of the Institute of Healthcare Associated Infection at the University of the West of Scotland.

“Nurses, in particular, have a key role to play at the frontline of care in preventing the spread of infection.”

To address the problem Ethicon has developed BIOPATCH, an innovative antimicrobial dressing that reduces CRBSIs by up to 69%3. It was recently recognised by the NHS Catalogue of Potential Innovations as an innovation that has the potential to make a real difference by transforming both quality and value across the NHS.

The survey found that only 40% of anaesthetists and just 20% of nurses had used BIOPATCH or something like it. Among those that know BIOPATCH well, however, 90% believed CRBSIs to be completely preventable.

“This represents a lost opportunity as some hospitals are already using BIOPATCH as part of their bundle of care and saving hundreds of thousands of pounds, simply by reducing CRBSI rates,” said Andrew Cleworth, business manager of BIOPATCH in UK, Ireland and the Nordics.

BIOPATCH works by gradually releasing Chlorhexidine Gluconate (CHG) from a foam matrix over a seven-day period. This helps to reduce local infections, CRBSIs, and skin colonisation of micro-rganisms commonly related to CRBSI in patients with central venous or arterial catheters. ithout the use of BIOPATCH, resident bacteria quickly re-colonise on the skin’s surface following antiseptic application.

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