Ask Drs. Oz & Roizen: Hospitals make progress on preventing infections

King Features SydicateJune 22, 2013 

Q: My husband will have knee replacement surgery, and I'm worried about hospital-borne infections. Any good news?

SARAH, F., Newport, R.I.

A: Yes, a tremendous amount. Hospitals are working to prevent infections from all causes and specifically from superbugs. You can always ask about a hospital's infection rate, both overall and within each department. You also can ask about technology used to prevent infections, from new to tried-and-true.

Æ Ever-improving older technology. Ultraviolet (UV) germicidal technology continues to be upgraded and is used for sterilizing operating rooms, air ducts, hospital equipment, hallways and patient rooms. And steam/vacuum sterilization (by autoclaving for instruments) and the use of germicides are effective.

Æ New stuff includes robotlike devices that can clean a room by dispersing hydrogen peroxide into the air and then detoxifying it. Some hospitals say this can reduce a patient's chances of becoming infected with drug-resistant bacterial strains of vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE), methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and C. difficile by 80 percent.

Æ Lastly there's what we call the "all-hands-on-deck" approach, combining the latest technological solutions with standard cleaning.

Dr. Mike's Cleveland Clinic has been a leader in achieving hand hygiene - the single most effective front-line defense against infection in hospitals. The national average for hand-hygiene compliance in hospitals is less than 50 percent. An education campaign and the addition of hand-hygiene monitors improved the compliance rate at the Cleveland Clinic to greater than 98 percent.

Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D., is chief medical officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. To live your healthiest, visit Distributed by King Features Syndicate.

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