Proventix Systems, Inc. of Birmingham, Ala. has invented the C. diff Alert to aid caregivers in their fight against Clostridium difficile, a microorganism that causes infection, claims 14,000 lives and incurs $1 billion in healthcare costs in the United States each year.
Clostridium difficile-associated disease (CDAD) can cause symptoms ranging from diarrhea to life-threatening inflammation of the colon. Most susceptible are older adults who take antibiotics and receive medical care. The ability for this organism to produce spores enables C. diff to survive for months in the environment of healthcare institutions, where it can spread directly from the contaminated environment to the patient or by transfer on the hands of the healthcare worker. In recent years, C. diff infections have become more frequent, more severe and more difficult to treat.
It is trusted that alcohol-based hand sanitizers are effective for most clinical situations; however, these rubs cannot eliminate C. diff spores. Washing with soap and water is one of the most effective ways to eliminate spores from contaminated hands.
"We created the C. diff Alert to assist the caregiver and hospital visitor with proper hand hygiene," says Avery Long, Proventix's director of hardware development. "The C. diff Alert helps prevent the spread of infection in real time."
The C. diff Alert is a feature that is unique to Proventix's nGage, a point-of-care compliance monitoring system that motivates healthcare workers to improve their hand-hygiene practices. The nGage system uses badges worn by caregivers that works with a two-way Communication Unit (CU) located directly above an automated hand sanitizer or soap dispenser to deliver patient and caregiver-related information.
When a caregiver or visitor approaches an automated hand sanitizer dispenser, the CU delivers a notification on its visual display alerting if a patient is under special precautions for C. diff. Also, to encourage appropriate hand hygiene, the CU disables the automated hand sanitizer dispenser and directs caregivers to wash their hands with soap and water, all while tracking the sequence of events.
David Sellers, RN, vice president of clinical operations at Proventix, notes, "I am excited about the opportunity to see this system deployed at client facilities. The ability to alert a busy caregiver of potential risks and help them take appropriate steps to protect themselves and their patients is extremely valuable. I am confident this capability will positively impact patient outcomes and contribute to a safer environment of care."
Infections and subsequent deaths caused by C. diff remain at relatively high levels. The CDC reports that C. diff infections have moved beyond hospitals and that 75 percent of these infections now begin in medical settings outside of hospitals, such as nursing homes and outpatient clinics.
"Proventix is always looking for new processes and technology to improve safety and help save lives in the healthcare industry. What we do goes beyond hand hygiene. We want to help hospitals increase workflow efficiencies so they have more time to offer quality care to their patients," says Harvey Nix, CEO of Proventix.