MRSAid™ – High Hopes For A New Era In Infection Prevention

Over the coming year, the world will learn more about our MRSAid™ photodisinfection technology and its ability to prevent surgical site infections.  The last patients in the year long quality improvement program at Vancouver General Hospital (VGH) will be treated next month, giving us a chance to look retrospectively at how surgical site infections were affected at this major hospital. This program, involving over 5,000 patients at VGH, sought to reduce infections in all patients undergoing cardio, vascular, neurological, thoracic, breast, spinal and orthopaedic surgeries.  Data from this analysis is expected in the late fall and results are expected to be announced at Infection Control Conferences in 2013.

People who carry MRSA or MSSA are at much greater risk of self infection when they are immunocompromised and weakened after surgery. Up to 30% of patients are simply unable to defend themselves from the tenacious bacteria called Staphylococcus aureus which lie dormant in the nose, waiting for opportunities to invade the body. Eliminating the bacteria carried in the nose prior to surgery has been proven to reduce the rate of surgical site infections. From a number of other studies (including Bode et al “Preventing SSIs In Nasal Carriers of Staph”), we have learned that eliminating both MRSA and MSSA from the nose prior to surgery reduces surgical site infections (SSIs) by up to 56% and total healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) by up to 79% in non-surgical admissions.

We already know from interim analysis at VGH that photodisinfection technology eliminates the bacteria (MRSA and MSSA) as effectively as antibiotics, but with a significantly better compliance rate (99% vs. 30-35%) and a superior safety profile. However, we need to prove that incorporating a nasal photodisinfection protocol just prior to major surgeries does reduce the incidence of surgical site infections. If our quality improvement program at Vancouver General Hospital demonstrates even a 25% reduction, this will indeed be a groundbreaking discovery by VGH and a great validation for the many years of dedicated effort from my talented team at Ondine Biomedical and the researchers at UCL.

Surgical site infections are a blight on our healthcare system. They are responsible for 2 times more deaths, 5 times more re-admissions and require an average of 8 more patient days in hospitals. The average cost of surgical site infections is known to be about $23,000, but can more than $100,000 for the serious ones. The costs to the global health care system exceeds $5-10 billion per year with 30-50% of them deemed to be unnecessary by the World Health Organization.  If photodisinfection can eliminate a large portion of surgical site infections, there would be more clinician, financial and facility resources for the many people on waiting lists for surgeries around the world….especially my home country of Canada.  At stake is millions of dollars of wasted funds and thousands of improved patient outcomes.

The next few months will be very important for photodisinfection. In this time of limited resources for infection prevention, it is imperative that photodisinfection demonstrate a large financial return to the hospital system. Successful outcomes at Vancouver General Hospital will be needed in order for MRSAid™ to have a chance at being adopted around the country.  It takes a special group to be willing to champion a brand new technology, and I want to thank Dr. Elizabeth Bryce and her team at VGH for their support, without which, there would be no chance of us continuing with this application. With fingers crossed and high hopes, we anxiously await the results of the MRSAid quality improvement study at Vancouver General Hospital.

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