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Unlike systemic technologies, filtration can significantly reduce the release of pathogens, biofilm and the aerosols they create. He explained that several European nations already recommend point-of-use 0.2 micron filters as a simple and effective solution to prevent waterborne microbe transmission to patients. He reviewed the results of studies conducted with Pall-AquasafeTM filters, which are specifically designed to prevent patient exposure to waterborne microbes. The filters provide an absolute barrier between the microorganisms and patients.

"Point-of-use filtration is a effective solution that can be easily applied to all types of water systems -- showers, faucets, and even ice machines -- especially in hospitals areas where the most vulnerable patients reside," he said.

Taking Action to Help Protect Patients

Dr. Cervia said hospitals throughout North America are increasingly turning their attention to water as a source of nosocomial (hospital-acquired) infection as a result of recognition of the prevalence and risks posed by waterborne pathogens. However, he noted, there is a great deal more to be done.

He stated that the infectious disease community can take the lead in solving the problem and that they can also look to the experience and success in Europe to ensure that patients are protected from dangerous waterborne pathogens.

Health and government agencies continue to stress the need for more stringent approaches to dealing with nosocomial infections, such as the new infection control standards mandated by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO), as part of their 2005 National Patient Safety Goal. State legislative initiatives across the U.S. in addition to public education campaigns by several organizations are also pushing for hospitals to alert the public to their infection rates.


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