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Silver-Coated Endotracheal Tubes Cut Down on Infections
Date:5/19/2008

Saves money and time spent in intensive care units, researcher says

MONDAY, May 19 (HealthDay News) -- Endotracheal tubes coated with silver dramatically reduce infections from highly resistant bacteria, researchers report.

Patients on ventilators breathe through a tube placed through their trachea and into the lung, and they are at risk for developing what is called ventilator-associated pneumonia.

"Ventilator-associated pneumonia can be caused by a variety of pathogens," said lead researcher Dr. Andrew Shorr, from the Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C. "We are clearly worried about some pathogens more than others, such as MRSA."

Endotracheal tubes that have no coating can be infected with highly resistant bacteria, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus( MRSA), Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Acinetobacter bumanii, and these infections can be passed to the patient.

Ventilator-associated pneumonia can be a serious and sometimes deadly condition, particularly if the infection is caused by pathogens that are resistant to antibiotics.

Shorr noted that the silver-coated endotracheal tubes are very effective in preventing infections from highly resistant bacteria. "This has huge implications, because highly resistant bacteria are most likely the ones associated with a higher risk of death from ventilator-associated pneumonia," he said.

These infections are also associated with higher costs for treatment, Shorr said. The average costs of treating ventilator-associated pneumonia can be more than $40,000, because of the length of stay in the intensive care unit, he noted.

The report was presented Monday at the American Thoracic Society's 2008 International Conference in Toronto.

In the study, Shorr's group assigned 1,509 patients to receive traditional, uncoated endotracheal tubes or silver-coated ones. They found that using the
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