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Put this down as one step forward and two steps back. A defective medical device, intended to improve patient safety, has turned out to be the source of serious hospital infections.

Rigorous attention to patient safety and monitoring for unexpected spikes in bloodstream infection rates at The Johns Hopkins Hospital led a team of Hopkins specialists to uncover an unintended, surprising safety problem with a new device that was supposed to make patients safer and easier to treat.

In a case study reported in the latest edition of the journal Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology online Jan. 6, a team of Hopkins patient safety experts describe how the introduction of a catheter valve newly marketed to the hospital in April 2004 coincided with a spike in potentially deadly bloodstream infections picked up by patients in the hospital’s pediatric intensive care unit, or PICU, and other intensive care units.

The device [is] called the Alaris SmartSite Plus intravenous catheter valve…

This case marks the second time within a year that Hopkins experts have found risks of infection related to introduction of new medical devices. In December 2004, the Hopkins team reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association on the need for tighter controls surrounding use of a water-gun device for cleaning wounds, since less-strict handling of the device led to a series of bloodstream and wound infections in 11 patients.

Excerpted from article at Medical News Today.

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