Superbugs make hospital leaders rethink supply chain

Antibiotic-resistant superbugs are one of the top threats to patient safety within healthcare, but hospital leaders must also consider the threat when managing the supply chain, according to Healthcare Finance News.

Many clinicians and providers already have superbug protocols in place, as well as antibiotic stewardship programs, but supply chain and materials management executives should also take precautions, Kristi Kuper, clinical pharmacy manager for VHA Inc., the nation's largest member-owned healthcare company, told the publication.

"There are unique infection prevention devices out on the market today such as ultraviolet light robots or machines that aerosolize different liquids that then dry on the surfaces and kill bacteria," she said. Despite the value of devices that use methods such as hydrogen peroxide or UV light against superbugs, they represent a major investment, so the first step is for hospital leaders to decide how to incorporate them into hospital operations.

The supply chain process may also factor in medical devices less susceptible to carrying bacteria, particularly in the wake of a string of Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae outbreaks associated with contaminated medical scopes, which were particularly vulnerable due to faulty cleaning guidelines issued by the manufacturer.

One antimicrobial manufacturer is collaborating with medical device makers to develop better antimicrobial protections for invasive devices, as well as non-invasive monitoring systems that may spread bacteria when used in multiple rooms, according to the publication. Although this could mean potentially higher supply chain costs, so does dropping the ball on infection prevention, which can lead to both higher treatment costs and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services refusing to pay for treatment associated with hospital-acquired infections.

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