AVA Conference Highlights CRBSI

We’ve recently returned from the very successful annual meeting of the Association for Vascular Access (www.avainfo.org). Though many hospitals have reduced the size of their IV teams or eliminated them altogether, it was obvious from last week’s gathering at the gigantic Gaylord conference center in National Harbor, Md. that there is still a substantial cohort of vascular access experts out there, working hard and deeply committed to better patient care.

One of the highlights of the conference for us was doing a focus group with Excelsior Medical, makers of the SwabCap disinfection cap for needleless IV connectors. Excelsior took the time and effort to meet with a small group of nurses to get some qualitative, very informative feedback about the vascular access challenges that nurses face.

Earlier in the month, Excelsior also teamed with AVA to cosponsor a webinar on best methods to disinfect needless connectors. The webinar is archived at http://tinyurl.com/35c6jnt.

The focus group and other feedback indicate that hospitals and vascular access nurses remain open to new and better means to achieve two goals:

1.) Complying with Joint Commission and similar protocols for cleaning needleless connectors/disinfection caps.

2.) Reducing catheter-related bloodstream infections (CRBSI, also known as a central line associated bloodstream infections or CLABSI).

Watch this space for more about the AVA conference and other new technological developments featured at the conference.

Get Infected, Stay in the Hospital

A new report on healthcare-acquired infections (HAI’s) tallies up their financial and mortality toll. The report confirms what’s already been known – patients who get an infection while in the hospital have to stay in hospital longer – and also reveals it’s worse than many of us thought.

Turns out that adults who get an HAI while in the hospital had to stay in the hospital an average of 19 days longer than those who didn’t get an infection, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Moreover, the report on 2007 data shows those adults are six times more likely to die while in the hospital. Not surprisingly, costs associated with an HAI were $43,000 higher per patient.

Amid these grim numbers there was a bit of good news: AHRQ reported a decline in the rate of infections among medical and surgical discharges after a peak in 2004 and 2005.

More on this from Infection Control Today magazine at http://tinyurl.com/2g45qlc, and from AHRQ’s new statistical brief, “Adult Hospital Stays with Infection Due to Medical Care, 2007” PDF at http://www.hcup-us.ahrq.gov/reports/statbriefs/sb94.pdf.

FDA Scrutinizes Medical Device Companies

Anybody involved in the medical device industry can’t help but notice how much bigger a presence the FDA is these days.

Within the past month, the agency has taken two notable actions with regard to vascular access and infection control — areas of particular concern to clinicians and companies, including several of our coalition partners and client companies.

Most recently, the FDA has issued a recall of certain Huber needles used for vascular access. The needles, the agency said, could produce cores — slivers of silicone — when they penetrate a vascular access port. That could lead to infection and other complications. More info at http://tinyurl.com/2v4k9kw.

Even more significantly, earlier this month the agency notified virtually every maker of needleless IV connectors that they would have to do major post-market studies to determine if their positive-pressure needleless IV connectors were associated with an increased risk of potentially deadly catheter related bloodstream infections (CRBSI).

Interestingly, it appears that the only maker of needleless IV connectors NOT affected by the recall was RyMed Technologies, which makes only neutral-pressure (AKA zero-displacement) connectors. (Full disclosure: RyMed is one of our clients.)

More about that FDA action on connectors at http://tinyurl.com/3az47ko.

And of course, beyond these actions, every regulatory person in the medical device industry has a story to tell about increased FDA scrutiny of device applications for marketing clearance.

eMix a Radiology Success in Montana

Healthcare Informatics magazine reports in its new issue on eMix and the Montana consortium known as IMOM. Using eMix (Electronic Medical Information Exchange — http://www.emix.com) IMOM facilities are sharing radiology images and reports.

See the full article at http://tinyurl.com/29b35db.

Montana facilities use eMix to share radiology images and reports much more quickly and at less expense — realizing a key goal for many of the state’s rural healthcare facilities.

The article puts it this way:

“eMix uses cloud-based technology to house images after they are encrypted and pass through eight layers of security that include a physically secure data center and member and user authentication. The uploaded images are then accessible to the intended recipient through a simple download following an e-mail notification.

“Beginning in November 2009, three Montana health providers-Great Falls Clinic, St. Luke Community Hospital in Ronan, and Kalispell Regional Medical Center in Kalispell, all with different PACS, started beta testing the eMix service. No significant problems were encountered, and three additional facilities-Benefis Health System in Great Falls, St. Vincent Healthcare in Billings, and Glendive Medical Center in Glendive, were added as beta sites. In March 2010 beta testing concluded and the facilities signed up with eMix to continue sharing images.”

eMix is a venture of DR Systems (www.dominator.com), a client of Dowling & Dennis PR.