How innovative textile technology can protect patients and healthcare workers

Capitalizing on innovative new textile technology that may reduce the transmission of hospital-acquired infections can help provider organizations take their quality and patient safety efforts to the next level.

Diane Raines, RN, senior vice president and CNO at Baptist Health in Jacksonville, Fla., and Kristin Vondrak, RN, vice president and chief quality officer at Baptist Health, shared their organization's experience with an innovative new textile in reducing healthcare-associated infections at the Becker's Hospital Review 6th Annual Meeting May 8 in Chicago.

"We operated under the premise that healthcare worker garments are exposed to microbes through contact with patients, the environment and each other, and the garments themselves can act as vectors that may spread pathogens," said Ms. Raines.

The question was, if you could limit the number of pathogens on worker garments, could you reduce the potential spread of infections? To address the question, Baptist Health invested in patient and healthcare worker garments made by Orlando, Fla.-based Vestagen Technical Textiles. The Vestex garments are engineered with both liquid repellents and antimicrobial properties.

According to Ms. Vondrak, the system's decision to try using Vestex garments was not driven by the lack of a current infection prevention program or the lack of good infection rates — Baptist had both — the decision was driven by a commitment to use innovation to enhance patient safety.

Ultimately, since implementing the use of the Vestex garments at Baptist facilities, the health system has seen a 10 percent reduction in surgical site infections, as well as reductions in catheter-associated bloodstream infections and urinary tract infections.

"Can I tell you that putting in these textiles led to an automatic cause and effect with our HAI rates? No. But we'd like to think the garments had an additive benefit on top of Baptist's full portfolio of infection prevention efforts," said Ms. Vondrak.

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