Use of plasma technology will give healthcare workers another way to clean their hands
Even Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon would be amazed to learn that plasma technology is about to deliver a way for healthcare workers to sanitize their hands without using soap and water! Pathologists and clinical laboratory managers will be interested to learn about a novel device that bathes hands with plasma as a way to reduce the spread of microorganisms by healthcare workers, including superbugs like MRSA, an antibiotic-resistant strain of Staphylococcus aureus.
Prototypes already exist and are designed to be simple for healthcare workers to use. They would simply stick their hands into a small box that bathes the hands with plasma that is specifically engineered to zap bacteria, viruses and fungi. The plasma used in the hand sanitizer is a gas similar to that used in fluorescent lights, neon signs, and televisions, but works at room temperature and pressure.
Clinical laboratory managers should be planning for a busy flu season this fall
Yesterday the World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared that A/H1N1 influenza (swine flu) is a global pandemic. This is the first such flu pandemic in 41 years. The announcement was not a surprise, since it was know that WHO was prepared to make this declaration weeks ago. But objections from several countries that such a declaration might trigger civil unrest and economic disruption caused WHO to defer this decision until yesterday.
There was little drama to this development, since the new A/H1N1 strain of the influenza virus has not turned out to be especially virulent or lethal. As of Wednesday, WHO released information that 74 countries have reported 27,737 cases of A/H1N1 flu and 141 deaths attributed to this virus. In the United States, the case count has topped 13,000 with at least 27 deaths confirmed to this strain of influenza.
As more attention is paid to reducing the number of healthcare-associated infections (HIAs), hospitals and health systems respond with proactive programs to eliminate many obvious sources of such infections. In turn, this affects hospital laboratories, since they play a key role in every hospital’s infection control program.
The basic statistics are stunning. Hospital-acquired infections (HIAs) affect nearly 2 million Americans annually, resulting in 90,000 deaths and up to $6.5 billion in extra costs, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).