MUNDELEIN, Ill. - Cutting-edge technological advancements in medical products are helping fight the intensifying battle against hospital-acquired infection. The Chicago Tribune<$> reported last week that more than 103,000 deaths occurred in 2000 linked to hospital infections. But increasing use of new technologically advanced products on the market such as Arglaes, a wound care dressing using controlled release silver, and exam gloves featuring aloe vera, may help stem this tide.
Cardiac surgeons around the country, including those at New York University Medical Center, Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City and The George Washington University Hospital in Washington, D.C., are using Arglaes film dressing - featuring controlled release antimicrobial silver - on incision sites following surgery to help reduce the risk of infection.
"Arglaes appears to have a significant advantage in reducing the incidence of infection," said Dr. Stephen B. Colvin, M.D., FACS, chief of cardiothoracic surgery and director of the cardiothoracic surgery residency program, at the New York University School of Medicine. "This leads to better outcomes for the patient; they're in the hospital for less time, they need fewer antibiotics and they are able to recover more quickly and completely."
Colvin, a pioneer in the development of minimally invasive cardiac surgery, is using Arglaes at the incision sites of all his patients to help reduce the risk of infection.
Just this summer, The George Washington University Hospital in Washington, D.C., began treating cardiac patients with Arglaes "to help reduce the need for expensive and invasive antibiotic therapies and their procedures," according to a statement from the hospital.
"Arglaes produces faster results than other prescriptions of topical and systemic antimicrobial agents," said Bryan Steinberg, MD, at The George Washington University Hospital. "Now patients experience much quicker healing of their post-surgical wounds because this product shows us results in three months that other treatments did not show us for four months."
The bacterial barrier benefits of sustained antimicrobial silver are so great that Medline has recently introduced a powder form of Arglaes and a new line of dressings called SilvaSorb. The Arglaes Powder provides controlled-release antimicrobial silver to any size, shape or depth of wound. The new SilvaSorb dressings combine the antimicrobial properties of silver with advanced fluid handling of chronic wounds to provide an optimal wound- healing environment.
Arglaes works by using ionic silver released at a constant rate into the wound through controlled-release polymers, which are added to the film during the manufacturing process. Arglaes maintains full efficacy for seven days, releasing a constant stream of silver, calcium and sodium ions. The silver ions are released at the same rate in the presence of a microscopic quantity of moisture vapor or a large quantity of fluid. This technology creates a barrier environment hostile to most known bacteria and fungi, but remains completely safe to healthy cells.
Silver has long been known as a potent antimicrobial agent. Silver sulfadiazine, for instance, is commonly used as a treatment for burn patients and for other wound care applications. However, silver as it is currently used has two inherent problems: it is rapidly neutralized when it comes in contact with body fluids and, therefore, requires frequent doses to maintain efficacy; and, in large quantities, silver is toxic.
However, the silver used in Arglaes is in its ionic state, which is more effective as an antimicrobial than the silver metal itself. And the dose required to achieve microbial control is substantially less than normal silver bearing compounds, and therefore, non-cytotoxic.
Arglaes is distributed and marketed exclusively in North America by Medline Industries, Inc., a manufacturer and distributor of health care supplies.
Aloetouch Exam Gloves
A major cause of infection cited by The Chicago Tribune<$> story was the failure of healthcare workers to comply with basic health standards such as washing their hands between treating patients. A study cited that workers were lax in following policy due to time constraints and the fact that frequent hand washings resulted in dryness and cracking of their skin. Another new product utilizing a patented technology is helping to solve this problem. Thousands of nurses and clinicians around the country are now using the Aloetouch exam glove containing aloe vera, the same ingredient used in everyday premium skin care products. Aloe, a natural healer, penetrates and helps moisturize dry skin.
"Since Aloetouch makes users' hands feel and look better, they may not be as hesitant about washing their hands and changing gloves on a frequent basis," said Margaret Falconio West, RN, APN/CNS, and director of clinical services for Medline Industries, Inc., the manufacturer and distributor of Aloetouch.
The aloe vera gel used in the Aloetouch powder-free, latex exam gloves is pure, cold-processed and free of the oils that break down latex. The aloe is applied to the skin once the gloves are on the wearer's hands.
"The aloe vera gel coating of these gloves actually helps combat dryness and irritation, and with repeated use, the skin becomes softer and more conditioned," said Carol A. Hankins, R.N. CNOR, inventory control specialist, MedCentral Health System, Mansfield, Ohio. "The aloe coating seems to make the gloves easier to don and remove; it also seems to make the glove more durable and less likely to tear while donning."
After being introduced less than two years ago, the benefits of Aloetouch have quickly spread within the health care industry and the gloves are now worn by thousands of medical workers in more than 2,000 healthcare facilities throughout the country.
The Aloetouch line now includes the original powder-free latex exam gloves, the powder-free nitrile exam glove and the recently introduced Aloetouch Ultra powder-free vinyl synthetic (latex-free) glove.
In clinical evaluations, 97 percent of the respondents preferred Aloetouch gloves to their current glove, and 93 percent noticed a difference in how their hands felt after the trial period.
"If new products such as Aloetouch will get health care workers to wash their hands and wear exam gloves more diligently, everyone will win and the chance for infection will decline," said Falconio West.
Founded in 1966, Medline is the leading direct supplier of medical products, equipment and textiles to the health care industry. Medline is committed to delivering the best value to its health care customers by combining manufacturer direct pricing with the highest quality products. Based on sales of over $1.2 billion in 2001, Medline is the largest privately held national manufacturer and distributor of medical supplies in the United States. The company ranks No. 279 on Forbes magazine's list of the top 500 private companies. Medline has more than 650 dedicated sales representatives nationwide to support its broad product line and cost management services. Medline distributes over 100,000 products to hospitals, extended care facilities, surgery centers, hospital laundries, home care dealers and agencies and other alternate site markets. With five manufacturing facilities in North America, Medline manufactures 70 percent of the products it sells. More information about Medline can be found at www.medline.com.