Reduce contact, reduce infection
Professor Malcolm Green highlights how the risks of patient-to-patient infection would be reduced if patient measurements were carried out by non-contact monitoring rather than by health professionals moving from patient to patient.
Since the relentless rise in antibiotic resistance over the last decade or two, MRSA, C. Difficile and other antibiotic resistant bacteria have been targeted by government policies. This has resulted in the introduction of robust infection protection and control protocols, increased staff education, and provision of extra resources. The result has been that Public Health England was able to report steady reductions in the number of MRSA and C. Difficile cases. But overall the dangers of antibiotic resistant bacteria are not going away: indeed this problem is the Chief Medical Officer's current top priority.
Furthermore, there is also a less visible downside of the improvements in hygiene. Healthcare staff on wards now have to follow vigorous washing and cleaning procedures, with associated paperwork, before and after every task. While this is essential, it is also time consuming and staffing levels have not increased commensurately.
Thus we now have stretched resources, difficulty in funding extra staff, but increased workload. Something has to give, and all too often the outcome is a fall in the time that nurses are able to give to patient care.
Furthermore, technological advances have created ever more equipment on the wards, all of which has to be kept clean and free of infection a difficult task when machines are moved from patient to patient 24 hours a day. A recent report in Switzerland found that something as common and innocuous as a doctor's stethoscope was heavily contaminated by bacteria.
There lies the conundrum; if the staffing levels cannot be increased, and technology is part of the problem, then where is the solution?
Thankfully, problems stimulate innovation, and Oxehealth is developing a new contactless patient monitoring system. Its Oxecam technology allows a patient's vital signs (temperature, pulse and respiration) to be monitored without any human or mechanical contact, reducing the risk of cross-contamination whilst also eliminating the time taken to make the measurements manually. Thus this one innovation reduces patient contact and potential for infection as well as saving time.
To find out more about this technology please contact us, and keep an eye out for our soon to be available demo.