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Sunday, 8 October, 2000, 23:47 GMT 00:47 UK
Drip device cuts infection risk
Catheters can be linked to infection
A self-adhesive device to secure intravenous catheters to hospital patients has helped to reduce the risk of infection.

Scientists believe the device, called StatLock, may provide an effective alternative to standard methods of securing catheters such as tape or stitches.

Catheters are used to deliver nutritional fluids and medications straight into the bloodstream of patients, many of them critically ill.

StatLock was also found to become dislodged less frequently, and posed no risk of accidental needlestick injuries to doctors and nurses.

The device was tested by researchers from The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

Lead researcher Dr Gregory Schears, an intensive care physician at the hospital, said: "We found advantages for both patients and healthcare providers."

We found advantages for both patients and healthcare providers

Dr Gregory Schears, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

Two studies were performed in 200 paediatric patients at Children's Hospital, with a third study group composed of 148 adult patients at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

Patients were randomly assigned to receive either the StatLock device or the conventional securement method - sterile threaded tape or stitches.

Dr Schears said: "Overall, when patients had the StatLock, there were fewer catheter-related complications, such as infections, unplanned removals and accidental needlesticks.

"The device was also significantly faster to apply than either tape or sutures."

Catheters are used to on millions of patients annually.

Puncturing skin

However, puncturing the skin and maintaining an opening for the catheter runs a risk of potentially serious infection.

Dr Schears said taping required less equipment than stitches, and was easier to perform, but may be less secure.

Using stitches was uncomfortable for the patient, and the site may become inflamed.

It also poses a risk of accidental needlestick injuries to doctors and nurses - with the associated risk of transmitting infectious diseases such as hepatitis or HIV.

Dr Schears said StatLock combined the ease and safety of tape application with the strength of stitches.

An adhesive pad provides a broad surface area to attach to the skin, and raises the catheter off the skin while holding the catheter in plastic prongs.

The device must be removed and replaced every week, and the dressing changed.

In addition to StatLock's health benefits, Dr Schears found lower costs associated with maintenance and complications.

Dr Mervyn Singer, an expert in intensive care at University College, London, said StatLock might be useful.

But he said: "If a patient wants to pull a catheter out, they will pull a catheter out.

"I suspect there might be a lot of hype here."

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