Nosocomial diseases: the Lépine competition rewards the invention of a surgeon

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Written by Doug Hampton

Axel Llobet, maxillofacial surgeon at the Perpignan hospital, invented with the engineer René Vinci, a machine to encourage caregivers to disinfect their hands more often with hydroalcoholic gel. Objective: to reduce nosocomial diseases which, each year, affect nearly 750,000 patients.

Before becoming an inventor, he was a maxillofacial surgeon. Dr. Llobet and René Vinci, engineer, have just won a gold medal at the prestigious Lépine competition. Their invention? A device, called the “Clean & Go” which should allow caregivers to improve the frequency of washing their hands. In concrete terms, how does that work ? “Staff in healthcare establishments are all equipped with a badge which allows them to pass through secure doors. Our invention allows the badge to be activated only when the caregiver has passed his hands under the patented hydroalcoholic solution dispenser. It is only at that time the badge will be active and the door will open”, explains Axel Llobet, surgeon at Perpignan hospital.

The idea is therefore to install the device at each secure door. “At the Rennes University Hospital, there are 700, in Chambéry 1,200”, illustrates our interlocutor who also imagines seeing his invention installed at other strategic points such as toilets and changing rooms. The badge activation time is variable and can be set by healthcare establishments according to their needs, 3 minutes, 20 minutes, 2 hours, etc.

1 in 20 patients contract a nosocomial illness

Thanks to his machine, the 33-year-old surgeon hopes to reduce the dizzying numbers of nosocomial diseases in health establishments. “1 in 20 patients who enter a healthcare facility will come out with a healthcare-related infection – urinary, respiratory, a hip prosthesis or an infected catheter… In all, each year, 750,000 patients in France contract a nosocomial illness. These infections can lead to the death of the patient, which is estimated at around 4,000 per year. It is also an additional cost of 2 to 6 billion euros per year”, stalks the surgeon.

One of the major causes of the plague? Bacteria that circulate from caregivers to patients. This is why hand washing is so important. “Today, however, we realize that prevention messages are not enough. With our invention, hand washing becomes mandatory”, he points out.

Improving the performance of health facilities

In healthcare establishments, the consumption of hydroalcoholic gel solution even has its own indicator: the ICSHA. Set up by the High Authority for Health (HAS) in 2008, it is an indicator of consumption of hydroalcoholic solution. “This indicator makes it possible to indirectly measure the practice of hand hygiene in health establishments”, explains the HAS. It is expressed as a percentage of the consumption expected in the healthcare establishment, which is set by the health authorities according to the establishment’s activities (resuscitation, surgery, long stay, etc.).

The establishments are then ranked by performance, from class A – the best – to class E – the worst. “If a director equips his hospital with our machine, the establishment will find itself in class A in a few months”, assures Dr. Llobet. In addition, this score is taken into account in the HAS certification of healthcare establishments for the quality of care.

Thanks to the spotlight given to the “Clean & Go” by the Lépine competition, Axel Llobet is already in contact with an industrialist to develop his invention and make it as functional as possible.. “I then want to conduct a study in several hospitals to, with supporting figures, convince the public authorities that it is essential to equip all health establishments with ‘Clean & Go’ to effectively fight against nosocomial diseases”.

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