How an Infection Prevention Squad Tackles Superbugs
By Medline Newsroom Staff | June 17, 2019
With each new superbug or pathogen outbreak to make the news, public concern soars higher than the last and calls for response reach ever higher levels. Preparing for emerging pathogens before they become wide-spread is imperative to controlling infectious diseases and ensuring public health.
At Medline, a squad of clinical, manufacturing and environmental experts have banded together to take a proactive stance against the spread of pathogens like the emerging Candida auris (C. auris), a multi-drug resistant fungus that already has caused deadly outbreaks in Chicago and New York. C. auris is particularly deadly, with a mortality rate of 35%, and difficult to kill with traditional disinfectants. In fact, one New York hospital was forced to remove floor tiles and portions of the ceiling from one room in order to effectively remove it. Medline’s infection prevention squad, whose members span various disciplines and divisions, tackles challenges like C. auris by studying emerging pathogens and working together to identify how the right assortment of products can effectively fight them.
“Finding a new solution against a threat as big as C. auris is not just a one person’s job. To solve problems in healthcare, such as finding a way to stop the spread of infections, having a collaborative mindset is key,” says Rosie D. Lyles, MD, director of clinical affairs at Medline. “As a team, we constantly think about what the next antimicrobial-resistant bug that poses the most danger to clinicians and patients, and we ask ourselves, ‘How do we get ahead of it? How can we make the solution easy and intuitive for healthcare providers?’”
Lyles also noted a study presented at the recent SHEA conference that found some level of C. auris was present on every kind of surface tested in a hospital setting. “With no type of material resistant to C. auris, this is a pathogen we knew deserved the focus of our infection prevention squad,” says Lyles.
Cracking the Candida Auris Code
One long-term Medline project, the Micro-Kill Bleach Germicidal Bleach Wipes, are now being used to fight C. auris in hospitals after the team identified the pathogen as an emerging threat more than a year ago. Historically, the cloth has been used by environmental services (EVS) and also nurses to clean medical equipment and high-touch surfaces. Now, after years of testing and development, Micro-Kill Bleach Germicidal Bleach Wipes are the first product to be cleared by the EPA to disinfect and kill Candida auris.
“Micro-Kill Bleach products represent an important tool for clinicians and administrators in the fight against one of the top infection threats in the world right now,” says Megan Henken, director of product management, environmental services at Medline. “Developing new products and testing existing ones against developing threats is a large part of how we help the front lines of infection prevention.”
Before they can hit the market, new and evolving solutions like the Micro-Kill Bleach Germicidal Bleach Wipes are rigorously tested in Medline’s laboratory in Mundelein. Microbiologists in that lab extensively test products on different surfaces and against various pathogens procured from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) for research and development purposes. This rigorous process helps ensure products can properly disinfect all the hard, non-porous surfaces in different care settings, from the floor of a waiting room to the operating lights of the OR.
Standardizing cleaning and disinfecting procedures
While new and innovative cleaning products are one tool in an infection prevention program, the best products won’t mean anything if not used correctly. For this reason, Medline also tackles infection prevention from the perspective of the cleaning process. When observing cleaning staff at facilities across the country, Medline experts noticed that often no two individuals cleaned in the same way, and many non-standard cleaning processes led to inadvertent cross contamination and skipped surfaces.
To help hospitals and other care settings improve their safety and infection prevention programs, Medline’s team developed process-based solutions that bolster a strategy to improve safety. The method is reinforced with numbered microfiber booklets that guide cleaning staff on how to use disinfectants, and in what order to clean each surface, so all surfaces get disinfected and cross contamination is minimized.
With the Micro-Kill Bleach Germicidal Bleach Wipes label announcement now public, Medline’s work on C. auris is now public and helping advance the body of knowledge on the pathogen. The varied experts in Medline’s infection prevention squad can now switch their focus to the next threat, and to the next way of helping clinicians and administrators stay on top of the today’s rapidly evolving health landscape.