Robots and healthcare-associated infections

New advances in technology may greatly reduce the risk of hospital acquired infections.

Healthcare-associated infections (HAI) are an issue throughout the United States. The most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that there were 722,000 HAI incidents in 2011 alone. Some cases are severe, with approximately 75,000 patients with HAIs dying during their hospital stay. Patients can suffer from a variety of infections due to exposure in the hospital. Some of the more common noted by the CDC include:

  • Pneumonia. Of the group surveyed in 2011, 157,500 reportedly suffered from this potentially deadly upper respiratory infection.
  • Gastrointestinal illness. 123,100 cases led to gastrointestinal infections.
  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs). 93,300 patients developed UTIs during their stay. This infection can impact the bladder and/or kidneys and is often associated with use of a catheter.
  • Bloodstream infections. Germs can enter the blood through the central line. According to the CDC, 71,900 patients suffered from this type of infection.
  • Surgical site infections. 157,500 patients developed infections at surgical sites. Severity can vary. The infection could involve the skin or could be more serious and affect the tissue under the surgical site.

The CDC's report, Multistate Point-Prevalence Survey of Health Care-Associated Infections, calls for an expansion of preventative measures used to address HAI infections. According to a recent report by ZDNet, a website designed to provide breaking news for business technology professionals, the answer may be found in advances in robotic technology.

Hospital infections and robotic technology

It may seem like something out of science fiction - a robot resembling a lamp without a shade rolls into a hospital room and uses UV light to disinfect the room. The president of TRU-D LLC, which produces the robot featured in the article, claims that this machine is not just reality, but could greatly reduce the number of HAIs in facilities that use the machine. According to the company, the machine can "achieve 99.99 percent disinfection of all viruses and bacteria."

The robot works through use of a specific type of UV light known to be germicidal, or able to kill terms. UV-C light, as opposed to the more commonly known UV-A and UV-B forms, kills bacteria by damaging its DNA structure.

Hospital infections and medical malpractice

Although some medical facilities are beginning to make use of these technological innovations, the machines are not yet wide spread. However, certain practices are expected of every healthcare facility. If these practices are not followed and a patient suffers an infection, a medical malpractice claim may be available.

Medical malpractice falls under the legal realm of negligence. If a physician or other medical care provider is negligent and that negligence results in an injury, compensation may be available to the victim to help cover the high costs associated with the mistake. This can include rehabilitation, additional medical care and other related expenses. Contact an experienced physician negligence attorney to discuss your case and better ensure your legal rights and any potential remedies are protected.