GEORGETOWN, Texas -- According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 1,900,000 people contract infections in hospitals, (Hospital Acquired Infections - HAIs) every year and well over 99,000 die as a result; more deaths than from AIDS, breast cancer and auto accidents combined. The so-called “bad bugs” behind many HAIs are so insidious, they can be found lurking practically anywhere within a healthcare facility. Several new studies show that healthcare professionals’ scrubs, lab coats and stethoscopes are carriers of deadly bacteria such as methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Clostridium difficile (C. diff) that easily can be transmitted to patients.
A Texas-based company called Cleanint has developed a product called Cleanstethoscope to help make it easier for medical professionals to protect their patients. But patients themselves need to be part of the awareness-raising process. Cleanstethoscope is a totally revolutionary concept. It is comprised of three parts: a small plastic holder that houses a sponge filled with ingredients such as benzalkonium chloride that clean the “bell” or round part of the stethoscope that makes contact with the patient’s bare chest or back, and a magnet allowing the medical professional to house the unit on the most convenient part of their clothing. Attaching this simple device to a lab coat, for instance, allows a doctor or nurse to quickly swish the stethoscope’s bell in the highly effective solution for a few seconds between patient visits. This simple act can save lives!
In this age of “super-bugs” that are extremely resistant to antibiotics, patients and their families need to be on the lookout for possible sources of contamination. To protect one’s health, and sometimes one’s life, questions need to be asked.
“Many people when placed in the position of becoming ‘a patient,’ automatically fear alienating the doctors or nurses by asking questions. Family members also face this problem,” says Tuan Dam, founder of Cleanint. “No one in the profession denies there’s a problem, but we all have to work together to make changes, so fewer people get secondary infections and fewer people die. You have to ask questions and the first one has to be “Did you clean your stethoscope?” “Change never comes easily or quickly, but we are facing dire statistics that can’t be ignored. To think that the medical institutions need to initiate all the safe practice changes is to not have a voice in forcing modifications that can protect all of us,” says Mr. Dam.