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Silver tubes could reduce critical care infections

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Using silver coated endotracheal tubes with critically ill patients can lead to a 36% reduction in ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP).

VAP affects around 15% of intubated patients. Approximately 20-40% of those will die, says the US research published online in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

It is becoming increasingly common, often caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Care bundles – a set of evidence-based procedures – have been introduced in many organisations to prevent VAP but use of the silver coated tubes requires no additional effort, said lead author Dr Marin Kollef, a pulmonary specialist at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St Louis.

A group of 1,509 patients were studied in 54 centres – all of whom were intubated for 24 hours or more. The researchers found 7.5% of those that had uncoated tubes got VAP while only 4.8% of those using silver coated tubes – a 36% reduction.

‘This is just the beginning of this type of technology,’ he said Dr Kollef. ‘In the future we could see other types of coatings with other functions placed in devices that come into contact with the body.’

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