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Deadly Infection Spread by Contaminated Heart Surgery Machines

A machine that cools and warms the blood during open-heart surgery has been linked to hard-to-treat infections in some patients, New Scientist reports. The microbe also seems to infect other machines via an airborne route in the operating room. A major concern is that, if the infection seeds a patient’s implant, the patient usually needs surgery to replace the implant since antibiotics can’t penetrate a biofilm the bacterium forms around it.

Hospital-acquired infections are rampant around the world. In the U.S., 1 in 4 patients end up contracting some form of infection while in the hospital, and 205 Americans die from hospital-acquired infections every day. Although the FDA doesn’t release the names of hospitals where these infections are reported, we do know that hospitals that accept Medicare tend to be riskier.

The most common hospital-acquired infections include central line-associated bloodstream infections, catheter-associated urinary tract infections, surgical site infections and clostridium difficile infections. Colonoscopy-associated infections are also highly reported, as non-disposable flexible medical scopes can transmit infections between patients, due to the fact that they cannot be properly sterilized.

This is one reason why the risk of death from colonoscopy may be as high as 1 in every 1,000 procedures. According to one report, the combined injury and kill-rate of colonoscopy-related complications is 0.5 percent, or about 70,000 people per year.

If you're having a colonoscopy or any other procedure using a flexible endoscope done, be sure to ask how it was cleaned before your procedure, and which cleaning agent was used. If the hospital or clinic uses peracetic acid, your likelihood of contracting an infection from a previous patient is very slim. But if it’s glutaraldehyde they use — brand name Cidex — cancel your appointment and go elsewhere.
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