Steve MacMillan Warns of Hospital Infections in Doctors’ Offices
Hospital based infections affect one in twenty patients, according to Steve MacMillan, CEO of sBioMed, a company leading infection control through products like Steriplex SD. Many of these healthcare associated infections (HAI), about one in five of all cases, are strains resistant to antibiotics. Billions of dollars are spent on treating these cases, and many patients die, making HAIs problematic for the healthcare industry. Patients visit hospitals and doctors’ offices in order to get well, not become more ill. Many patients in hospitals or even visiting the doctor already have compromised immune systems, so it is even more dangerous for them to come in contact with one of these infections, says Steve MacMillan.
Healthcare associated infections fall under a few different categories. Many of the bugs thrive on various medical surfaces, including tubes and instruments, and they often occur during procedures that employ invasive devices like catheters or ventilators. About two thirds of all HAIs are due to central line-associated bloodstream infections, catheter associated urinary tract infections and ventilator associated pneumonia. Surgical sites can also become infected due to contaminated instruments, surfaces, or hands. Another common type of HAI is gastrointestinal infection through exposure to clostridium difficile on surfaces or unclean hands.
Hospitals are aware of the problem and are working hard to prevent these infections, says Steve MacMillan. Preventable infections occurring in surgery and other hospital stays have decreased by a fifth in the past four years. According to CDC data, central line-associated infections decreased by 44 percent and surgical infections decreased by 20. Additionally, there were 30,000 fewer methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections in 2011 than 2005 and 9,000 fewer deaths caused by healthcare associated infections.
Although the data currently on record show that HAI in settings outside of hospitals are rare, that is changing, according to Steve MacMillan. Many patients now have day surgery and other complicated procedures at places other than hospitals, like ambulatory centers. Many minor surgeries are also being performed in the doctor’s office. As more of these surgeries occur in doctors’ offices, it puts patients at risk of infections. Additionally, these places do not have all the same information and incentives as hospitals in order to be able to prevent cases from occurring. This means that not only are more surgeries happening outside of hospitals, increasing the risk of HAIs, these places are increasingly unprepared to fight and prevent HAIs. Therefore, patients may have a higher risk of HAI at their doctor’s office or outpatient clinic than a hospital, says Steve MacMillan.
Steve MacMillan Talks Prevention of HAI
In 2008, the Department of Health and Human Services created a steering committee to create a plan to prevent healthcare associated infections. There are many resources provided for health care facilities to understand how to prevent HAIs, including checklists. Many hospitals and other centers dedicated to surgery and in patient care follow these, but many doctor’s offices and other outpatient clinics that now perform minor surgeries and invasive procedures do not always follow the same preventative procedures.
In addition to using better technical assistance and training in order to create a better, sterile environment to prevent HAIs, there are programs in place through Medicare, Medicaid, and private sector health insurance companies that include not paying for preventable HAI and payment systems that actually reward good outcomes to inspire hospitals to implement systems to prevent HAIs. Although these programs are successful in hospitals, there are many other healthcare centers that do not benefit from these policies, like long-term care hospital, cancer centers, VA hospitals, rural health clinics, and more.
In order to ensure that patients are protected wherever they have surgery and other medical procedures, there must be some regulation of standards, says Steve MacMillan. Representatives from the CDC recently discussed these issues during a Senate committee meeting of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee. This represents the first step in ensuring that all health care facilities will have the same protection against health care associated infections.
There are simple solutions that health care centers can implement in order to prevent infections from occurring in doctors’ offices. Medical checklists can create more sanitary conditions and will alert the medical personnel to any signs of infection. The CDC offers checklists for the various types of health care facilities to follow to ensure that all surfaces, surgical tools, tubes, and anything else that comes in contact with the patient remain sterile. Additionally, it provides a checklist for nurses and doctors to follow to ensure they do not become carriers of the infection strains either. Hand washing is one of the best things to do to prevent transmission. Products like Steriplex SD aid in sterilizing against many types of bacteria associated with HAIs, including those that are antibiotic resistant.
Creating a prevention plan and following it will ensure your facility remains safe for your patients. For patients, before you undergo any planned surgeries, be sure to ask about the facility’s procedure to prevent HAIs to ensure your safety. It is no longer just hospitals you have to worry about, as doctor’s offices and outpatient clinics can be breeding grounds of these bacteria as well, warns Steve MacMillan.
Steve MacMillan is the CEO of sBioMed, LLC, an emerging leader in infection control with their flagship product Steriplex SD, a sporicidal disinfectant. Prior to joining sBioMed in October 2012, MacMillan was Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Stryker Corporation and worked for many years at Procter and Gamble. He has also served on many boards and committees, including as a member of President Obama’s Advanced Manufacturing Partnership, the board of Texas Instruments, and AdvaMed.