Can Light Therapy in Nasal Passages Slash SSIs?
Light-activated disinfection method reduces infections nearly 40% in pilot study.
Published: December 18, 2012
Could a quick pulse of light up a patient's nose before surgery reduce surgical site infections? For a hospital in Vancouver, the answer appears to be yes.
Using photodisinfection of patients' nasal passages has helped Vancouver General Hospital (VGH) reduce SSIs by 39% in a recent pilot project. The use of chlorhexidine wipes on the body was combined with painless, nonthermal light energy used on nares to achieve the post-op infection reduction.
The pilot project marks the first time this combination of non-pharmaceutical therapies to reduce SSIs has been used in a hospital in North America. Over 12 months, more than 5,000 patients received the combination therapy, which takes less than 10 minutes, before their surgeries. During the course of the study, actual occurrences of SSIs dropped from an expected average of 85 cases to 50.
"By using these 2 therapies in conjunction, we were able to reduce SSI occurrences by 39% over the study's duration, which marks impressive gains for patient quality and safety," says Elizabeth Bryce, MD, PhD, FRCPC, the regional medical director, infection control at Vancouver Coastal Health. "Most importantly, the decrease in SSIs translates into less morbidity for our patients."
The combination therapy is carried out immediately before the patient's going into the OR, resulting in a compliance rate at VGH of about 91%. As a result, SSI-related readmissions also decreased, from 4 to 1.25 cases per month, freeing up an additional 553 patient bed days.
"We are proud to be the first hospital in Canada and in North America to implement a program using this combined approach of innovative light-activated technology that will prevent patients from contracting infections post-surgery," said Titus Wong, MD, FRCPC, medical microbiologist at VGH. "Not only will this new approach prevent infections and reduce costs, but it will also allow us to reinvest that saved money into direct patient care."
Results have been presented at Infectious Disease Week 2012 and will also be submitted for publication and peer review, according to VGH.
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