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Reducing Surgical Site Infections With Photodisinfection

4 January 2013

The Canadian company Ondine Biomedical has announced the results of the first ever pilot programme of nasal decontamination to utilise photodisinfection, reporting a 39% reduction of surgical site infections (SSI).  The technology was invented at UCL Eastman Dental Institute by Professor Michael Wilson for the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases.

Photodisinfection is a rapid, non-antibiotic, antimicrobial treatment that can be used minutes before surgery.  By the application of a photosensitising dye and light, photodisinfection can significantly decrease the presence of targeted pathogens, being able to kill harmful bacteria such as MRSA. It has the potential to reduce the use of antibiotics – antibiotic resistance having been identified by the World Health Organisation as a threat to public health globally.

The study in question was carried out at Vancouver General Hospital (VGH) and involved using the technology, in conjunction with chlorhexidine body wipes, to eliminate bacteria inside the noses of patients immediately prior to major elective surgery.

Surgical site infections require on average more than eight days extension of hospital stays; major infections involving MRSA can result in hospital stays that exceed many months.  Patients who develop infections after surgery are five times more likely to be readmitted to hospital, and twice as likely to die.  As such, reduction in SSI is extremely important.

More than 5,000 patients were involved in the year-long pilot programme that saw a decrease in SSI from 4 to 1.25 cases per month.   It resulted in the freeing of 533 patient beds and an additional 138 surgeries performed, generating $1.9 million of savings to the hospital.  As a consequence of the trial, observing benefits in excellent safety results, patient compliance and ease of work flow integration, VGH has adopted photodisinfection into its standard preoperative procedures.

On announcing the results of the study, Chairman and CEO of Ondine Biomedical Inc, Carolyn Cross, paid tribute to “the inventive genius of Professor Michael Wilson and his passion, throughout his successful career, for validating this extraordinary technology to address antibiotic resistance, in the pursuit of saving lives and improving patient outcomes.”

Professor Wilson is Professor of Microbiology in the department of Microbial Diseases.

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