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MICROBIOLOGY LAB'S NEW ARSENAL TARGETS HOSPITAL-ACQUIRED INFECTIONS

CONTACT:  Steven Bates, steven.bates@tuhs.temple.edu

215-707-7790

 

From Temple Talk, The newsletter of Temple University Hospital, January 2010

 

Dr. Truant examines a blood culture in the VersaTREK instrument. Photo by Steven Bates, Temple University Health System.

Dr. Truant examines a blood culture in the VersaTREK instrument. 

Photo by Steven Bates, Temple University Health System.

 

There's a killer on the loose and a trail of evidence at the scene. Thanks to the latest in state-of-the-art equipment, the experts in the lab may be able to identify the culprit in record time.

 

While this may sound like the set-up for an episode of that crime scene investigation show, the heroes of this story are the staff of TUH's Clinical Microbiology Lab, which works with TUH clinicians to identify both community-acquired and hospital-acquired infections (HAIs). Recently, the team added several pieces of new high-tech gear that focus on enhancing patient care through more efficient detection of nosocomial HAIs.

 

 

Reducing Infections
Enhances Care

 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that as many as 2 million hospital-acquired infections occur in U.S. hospitals each year, which are associated with more than 90,000 deaths. In addition to the toll these often-avoidable infections take on patient health, the CDC estimates that these infections also generate about $20 billion nationally in additional healthcare costs each year.

 

As part of a hospital-wide initiative to enhance patient care by reducing these infections, the lab is employing these new innovations and working with all TUH departments – especially Infectious Diseases and Infection Control – to identify patients with infections faster and protect at-risk patients more efficiently.

Raquel C. Deleon-Gonsalves, Assistant Manager, left, and Carmelita C. Flores, Manager, load samples to test for MRSA. Photo by Steven Bates, Temple University Healty System.

Raquel C. Deleon-Gonsalves, Assistant Manager, left, and Carmelita C. Flores, Manager, load samples to test for MRSA. Photo by Steven Bates, Temple University Health System.

 

“With these technologies we can detect and identify disease-causing organisms more effectively and quickly. That means we can start fighting diseases earlier, before patients get sicker – making their hospital stay shorter and minimizing unnecessary use of antibiotics,” says Allan L. Truant, PhD, TUH’s Director of the Clinical Microbiology, Immunology and Virology Labs.

 

 

More Efficient Results Equal
More Precise Care

 

Lisa Rudolph, Assistant Manager, prepares the Phoenix to run a series of tests. Photo by Steven Bates, Temple University Health System.

Lisa Rudolph, Assistant Manager, prepares the Phoenix to run a series of tests.  Photo by Steven Bates, Temple University Health System.

The centerpiece of this new arsenal of diagnostic equipment is the Becton-Dickinson Phoenix automated microbiology system, to which Truant refers as his "workhorse." In many ways, the rapid testing and diagnostic functions of this device best demonstrate the great potential these new tools have to offer.

 

Consider an inpatient who is recovering from surgery and has developed an unexplained fever. Within hours (instead of days by conventional methods), the Phoenix can not only identify the bacteria that's causing the fever, but also recommend antibiotics that would best fight it.

 

“The rapid testing makes it easier to target the cause of the illness instead of just treating the symptoms,” said Truant. “It allows clinicians to either modify their choice of therapy or initiate rapid antibiotic therapy.”

 

 

From Better Detection To
Better Prevention

 

AnneMarie Koenig, Medical Technician, rinses samples before placing them into the Gen-Probe Aptima. Photo by Steven Bates, Temple University Health System.

AnneMarie Koenig, Medical Technician, rinses samples before placing them into the Gen-Probe Aptima.  Photo by Steven Bates, Temple University Health System.

While the new technology has a large impact on direct patient care, it has also led to the development of new hospital-wide protocols to enhance efficiency in disease detection.

 

For example, the innovative new VersaTREK Blood Culture instrument™, which can detect most pathogens in blood cultures within 24 to 48 hours, has been so effective, it helped TUH develop a superior protocol for ordering blood cultures throughout the hospital – optimizing processing efficiency, tracking orders more precisely, and reporting results more rapidly, says Truant.

 

“Hospitals will never totally eradicate all hospital-acquired infections, but we can try to minimize them to the greatest extent possible,” said Truant. “This new equipment helps to move us closer to that goal.”