In addition, highly resistant infections were less than half as likely to occur among those patients who received the silver-coated tubes, Shorr's team reported.
"People need to focus more on ventilator-associated pneumonia," Shorr said. "We now have a tool for preventing ventilator-associated pneumonia, which is effective in preventing infections from highly resistant bacteria."
One expert thinks that silver coatings are an effective way to cut down on many antibiotic-resistant infections.
"The silver coating doesn't prevent all infections, but it cuts down on infections significantly -- and that's important," said Dr. Philip Tierno, director of clinical microbiology and immunology at New York University Medical Center.
Many of these infections are very resistant to antibiotics, making them difficult to treat, Tierno said. "Even if you cut down 40 percent of the incidents of all ventilator-associated pneumonias, that is lifesaving," he said.
Reducing the incidence of ventilator-associated pneumonia is also cost-effective, Tierno said. "It's a costly endeavor having to maintain the patient for a longer period of time in the hospital, wasting money and resources on fighting and unnecessary infection that might have been prevented," he said.
Tierno noted that silver has its limitations because some organisms have a tolerance to silver. Silver and other coatings are being tried on other products such as catheters to cut down on infections, he said.
"All these products will cut down on expenses, because if you can prevent something that's always better than treating something-- an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, like my grandmother said," Tierno said.
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