How to reduce catheter infections in hospitals?

Ines Castro Gonçalves, Research Professor at the i3S/INEB Institute of the University of Porto is testing an alternative catheter antiseptic device for the use of antibiotics to prevent catheter-mediated infections, which can be transmitted by patients undergoing hemodialysis and hospital dialysis. This device is a cap that fits over the catheter, and it disinfects without chemicals.

Our method clears the catheter before connecting the patient to the dialysis machine again, for example, a process that is repeated about three times a week.”



Ines Castro Goncalvesi3S / INEB Advanced Graphene Biomaterials Group Leader.

“The covering is made of graphene, which when exposed to light kills bacteria by temperature and oxidation of membrane proteins, destroying their packaging,” Castro Gonçalves told La Vanguardia. “Our method sterilizes the catheters before connecting the patient to the dialysis machine again, for example, a process that is repeated about three times a week,” says the researcher.

Catheter-mediated infection can carry bacteria into the bloodstream, leading in the worst case to sepsis and death. At best, a long stay in the hospital, which reduces the patient’s quality of life and pockets of health.

From 45 thousand to 58 thousand euros per patient

The cost of catheter infections

A 2013 study of the economic impact of healthcare-associated infection in the US system showed that catheter-associated bloodstream infections are the most common.
Each injury costs around 45,000 euros per patient and requires an average of 10 days’ hospital stay, 7 of which are in the intensive care unit.
When this infection is caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria, the cost is higher, around 58,000 euros, plus an average hospital stay of 16 days.”
Ines Castro Goncalves
i3S Group Leader / INEB Advanced Graphene Biomaterials Group

The researcher patents this technology, launches a startup and agrees with other companies to produce more devices in order to get enough units for laboratory studies and clinical trials. In parallel, the device must be proven to be safe so that patients can benefit from its use.

Castro Gonçalves is a microbiologist and physician in biomedical engineering. Since 2003, he has been researching and developing antimicrobial biomaterials. The cap, whose prototype is being finalized, could benefit 3.2 million patients who undergo dialysis each year. “We know there is a 15% mortality rate related to the use of these catheters,” says Castro Gonçalves, who is working to reduce this rate.

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