The intensive care unit (ICU) of hospitals has always been the place where the most vulnerable patients are kept so that they can be monitored and treated with particular attention, often also thanks to a close relationship between nurse and patient. Even with the great advances in medical technology, these patients continue to be at greater risk of infections: yet, with proper sanitization, many of these could be avoided.
For this reason, we at AMIL Care have decided to dedicate a specific article to infections in intensive care units (ICU), referring in particular to professional figures such as the Purchasing Manager in hospital facilities, the Medical Equipment Management Managers, Clinical Engineers (Aiic), Safety and Hygiene Managers (HSE), and also Clinical Risk Management Managers.
What are nosocomial infections?
By “nosocomial infection” we generally mean those infections that are not present or incubating when the patient is admitted to a hospital or other healthcare facility. The time frame for the diagnosis of a nosocomial infection will therefore clearly depend on the incubation period of the specific infection; 48 to 72 hours after admission are generally considered indicative of a nosocomial infection. Although generally associated with hospitalization, nosocomial infections can arise after admission to any healthcare facility, and the term healthcare-associated infection is increasingly used. Such infections are common and associated with great morbidity and mortality.
When these infections occur in intensive care, we speak of ICU or infections acquired in intensive care.
How are bacteria transmitted in the hospital and in the ICU?
In intensive care units, patients often come from other wards and have been treated for something before their admission. This potentially predisposes them to have a resistant microorganism as the cause of the infection. These patients can then become a danger to the entire unit and put other patients and healthcare personnel at risk.
Transmission by contact can occur in several ways, through direct contact of secretions with the patient, contact with a contaminated surface/equipment, and the hands of health care workers. Any of these routes of transmission can pose a significant problem for any facility.
The intensive care unit occupied by problematic and risky cases is paradoxically the one in which compliance with hand hygiene and other preventive infection control practices tends to be reduced. In the ICU, there are so many clinical staff involved in patient care, and so much to do, that the risk of transfer of microorganisms increases.
The question does not end here. Unfortunately, patients can also contract new infections while in intensive care, as the immune system does not work properly. Additionally, invasive devices, such as needles and tubes, are inserted into the body as part of regular intensive care treatments. These devices bypass the body’s normal defenses, such as the outer layers of the skin.
In addition, some invasive treatments can increase the risk of infection, such as intubation, intravenous drug administration, or insertion of catheters to drain the bladder.
What are the most common hospital infections?
Patients admitted to the ICU are at increased risk of nosocomial infections, which increase patient morbidity, increase length of stay and hospital costs, and may increase mortality rates.
Infections in which Gram-positive pathogens are responsible, for example, Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus epidermidis, and enterococci are particularly common in intensive care units (this is evidenced by prestigious studies, such as a study published in PubMed), but not only.
The most common infections acquired in intensive care are pneumonia, other lower respiratory tract infections, urinary tract infections, and bloodstream infections. The bacterial isolates were equally divided between Gram-negative and Gram-positive species. The bacteria commonly reported in cases of infection in intensive care are Enterobacteriaceae, Staphylococcus aureus, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
Prevent infections in intensive care
Infection prevention in the ICU relies on the application of effective strategies over extended periods only if they can be integrated into the behavior of all staff involved in patient care.
Consequently, infection control measures must be prioritized and must be fully integrated into the ongoing process of improving quality of care.
There are four areas of prevention in which healthcare personnel are required to pay attention:
- Contact between staff and patient;
- Improved cleaning of surfaces;
- Prevention of healthcare-associated infections;
- Proper hand hygiene.
Medisystem by AMIL Care: concrete help to fight infections in intensive care
It is thanks to the use of hydrogen peroxide as an active ingredient combined with silver salts and micro-nebulization technology that Medisystem carries out its activity of preventing and fighting hospital infections, including those involving intensive care.
In fact, hydrogen peroxide confirms its effectiveness on microorganisms of all kinds: bacteria, viruses, spores, fungi, tuberculosis, and biofilms. Micro nebulization allows the saturation of the environment by eliminating pathogens through the oxidation of their cell membranes. The hydrogen peroxide then dissolves in water and oxygen, leaving no residue. These features make the system safe and practical to apply.
Medibios Plus.hub, the effective response to infections in intensive care units
Medibios Plus.hub is a CE Marked Class Medical Device: a next-generation patented micro-nebulizer that is practical, handy, and technological, designed for use in various hospital settings.
Treatment settings are made via a touchscreen display. Medibios Plus.hub treats from 10 to 2000 cubic meters of space; allows high-level disinfection cycles with no–touch technology, together with validated protocols, mainly in critical areas and on the main multi-resistant pathogens. The device can connect to pre-set sensors, which allow recognition of the room and the inserted program. Each cycle performed generates a report in PDF format, which can be saved on a USB stick and printed.
The combination of Medibios Plus hub with AMIL Care disinfectant chemicals forms Medisystem.