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NewSplash Archive – November 2020

Issue 47 – 11/24

When Life Hands You Lemons, Think Beyond Just Lemonade by Julie E. Williamson
Going into 2020, many of us were excited about what the year had in store. Even the “2020” conjured up clear vision and a sense of positive anticipation for the months ahead. And then, KABOOM! The pandemic hit and everything was upended in a blink. Our lives became a harried, stress-filled, uncertain, and at times, scary blur.

If this year taught us anything, it’s that we can’t count on the comfort of status quo, either in the workplace or in our personal lives. No question, our day-to-day rhythms have been disrupted in unexpected and often downright uncomfortable ways, and we still don’t know what tomorrow, next week, next month, or even next year will bring (although many of us are anticipating much of the same, while still holding onto hope that some old normalcies will return sooner rather than later).

Coronavirus vaccine briefs
There has been a mind-boggling amount of news on the vaccine front since we published Issue 46 last week. Pfizer submitted an application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization for its COVID-19 vaccine.

Oxford coronavirus vaccine produces strong immune response in older adults
The COVID-19 vaccine candidate developed by researchers at the University of Oxford has been shown to trigger a strong immune response in healthy adults age 56 years and older. The data suggest the Oxford vaccine, named ChAd0x1 nCov-2019, may build immunity in one of the most vulnerable groups.

Common SARS-CoV-2 mutation may make COVID-19 more susceptible to a vaccine
A new study published in Science confirms that SARS-CoV-2 has mutated in a way that’s enabled it to spread quickly around the world, but the spike mutation may also make the virus more susceptible to a vaccine.

Georgia Tech researchers release county-level calculator to estimate risk of COVID-19 exposure at U.S. events
Despite pleas from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, many of us will travel for the holidays to small gatherings with friends and family and shop for gifts. How can you determine the risk of COVID-19 exposure for your destination or home town?

MMI receives CE Mark for microsurgical system
Italian company MMI SpA announced it received the CE Mark for the launch and first human use of its Symani Surgical System for microsurgical procedures. The surgical system combines tremor reduction and motion scaling with the world’s smallest wristed instrumentation, offering seven degrees of freedom and dexterity beyond the reach of human hands.

Tune in to IAHCSMM’s PROCESS THIS! podcast
This episode’s guests on PROCESS THIS! are Kevin McLaughlin and Randy Stanton from Northfield Medical. They discuss why it’s essential to adopt a proactive rather than reactive approach to instrument maintenance, which helps support successful patient outcomes.

New Beyond Clean episode now available
For the Season 10 finale, Beyond Clean welcomes Beyond Clean cofounder and CEO Justin Poulin to discuss usage-based instrument repair. This episode touches on the frequency of repairs, whether your repair partner should be onsite every week or should it depend on your facility’s usage data.


Issue 46 – 11/17

Sterile Storage, Inventory Control, and Ensuring Items Are Delivered to the Point of Use Intact by Jonathan A. Wilder, Ph.D., Managing Director
One of the things I get to do for a living is to audit sterile processing department and perioperative sites for good practices. One of the things I do for free is participate in the Kilmer Innovations in Packaging – Last 100 Yards working group, a group that is developing support documents that will, hopefully, assist in ensuring that items delivered to the healthcare institution in a sterile state or rendered sterile in the course of processing them at the healthcare institution arrive at the point of use in a sterile, usable state. In both of these situations, I get to examine the issues typically found during SPD and materials management for storage and transport. Sometimes, I get to see great work. Sometimes, well, let’s discuss that a little.

Moderna announces its COVID-19 vaccine is 94.5% effective
According to data from an ongoing study, Moderna Inc.’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate appears to be 94.5% effective. This announcement follows Pfizer’s statement that its vaccine candidate is 90% effective.

Stretchable sensor provides robots and VR a sense of touch
Researchers at Cornell have developed a fiber-optic sensor that combines low-cost LEDs and dyes that result in a stretchable skin that detects pressure, bending, and strain. This sensor could give soft robotic systems—and anyone using augmented reality technology—the ability to feel tactile sensations.

New N95 alternative introduces sensors for better fit
Investigators from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts Institute of Technology have been working to design a better, reusable respirator that could serve as an alternative to an N95 respirator. In the latest iteration of their work, they have introduced sensors to inform the user if the respirator is on properly and whether the filters are becoming saturated.

Limaca Medical developing endoscopic ultrasound-guided biopsy device
Israeli firm Limaca Medical is developing an endoscopic ultrasound-guided biopsy device for precision medicine for the early detection of pancreatic cancer. Pancreatic cancer has a low five-year survival rate of 9%, and current methods for biopsy sampling are outdated and provide inadequate tissue samples for genetic profiling.

More than half of disposable gowns failed to meet necessary protection standards in ECRI testing
New analyses by the nation’s leading patient safety organization show that more than 50% of the disposable isolation gowns it tested failed to meet standard levels of protection, putting healthcare workers at risk of exposure to bloodborne or other pathogens, as well as SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. 

Tune in to IAHCSMM’s PROCESS THIS! podcast
This episode’s guests on PROCESS THIS! are Kevin McLaughlin and Randy Stanton from Northfield Medical. They discuss why it’s essential to adopt a proactive rather than reactive approach to instrument maintenance, which helps support successful patient outcomes.

New Beyond Clean episode now available
This week the hosts of Beyond Clean welcome Sharyn Combs, BA, CHBC, JMT, CRCST, an independent certified human behavior consultant, John Maxwell team member, and the founder of UCDI Leadership Training and Development. The topic is sterile processing leadership myths, misconceptions, and mistakes that are often found in the industry.


Issue 45 – 11/10

Process Challenge Devices for Cleaning Evaluation and How to Go about Them: The Idea behind PCDs by Pawel de Sternberg Stojalowski
Process challenge devices (PCDs) are not a new thing, and we have been using them to monitor sterilization processes for years. The idea is simple; a PCD is a surrogate device that mimics the challenge of the load to the process and indicates whether the process it went through was executed properly.

For sterilization, where the aim of the process is to kill microorganisms within the load, the indicators are designed to prove that the required dose of sterilant was delivered. It can be done because there is a known correlation between sterilizing dose (intensity and time of exposure) and microbial population reduction for all sterilizing methods. We know that the longer the exposure to the sterilizing dose, the more microorganisms will be killed: the rate is constant and depends on the intensity of the sterilant. The caveat is that all elements of the load need to be exposed to the same conditions.

Pfizer claims its COVID-19 vaccine is 90% effective
Pfizer announced that its COVID-19 vaccine candidate is 90% effective, based on early and incomplete test results. The vaccine, which is being developed with German partner BioNTech, is on track to apply for emergency-use authorization (EUA) from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in late November or early December.

Artificial-intelligence algorithm successfully detects COVID by sound of cough
An artificial-intelligence (AI) algorithm developed by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has correctly identified people with COVID-19 by the sound of their coughs. During testing, the algorithm successfully detected COVID-19 in 98.5% of people who had a positive test result, and it had a 100% success rate in those who had no other symptoms.

U.S. hospitals targeted in ransomware attacks
Cybercriminals operating out of Eastern Europe recently launched a coordinated ransomware attack targeting U.S. hospitals. Within 24 hours beginning October 26, six hospitals across the U.S. were hit by the Ryuk ransomware, which encrypts data on computer systems and demands a ransom to unlock the computers.

Llama nanobodies could help fight COVID-19
Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine describe a new method to extract tiny but extremely powerful SARS-CoV-2 antibody fragments from llamas, which could be fashioned into inhalable therapeutics with the potential to prevent and treat COVID-19.

GE Healthcare partners with GenesisCare to improve cancer and cardiovascular outcomes
Medical imaging provider GE Healthcare has entered into a partnership with integrated cancer and cardiovascular care provider GenesisCare to improve outcomes for cancer and heart disease patients.

SARS-CoV-2 spike proteins disrupt blood-brain barrier
Scientists from the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University have discovered that the spike proteins on the SARS-CoV-2 virus promote inflammatory responses that disrupt the blood-brain barrier. The study is the first to show that spike proteins on the SARS-CoV-2 virus can cause the blood-brain barrier to become “leaky,” potentially disrupting neural networks.

Tune in to IAHCSMM’s PROCESS THIS! podcast
PROCESS THIS! is the biweekly podcast by IAHCSMM hosted by Jon Wood, clinical education specialist at IAHCSMM. The podcast is aimed at sterile processing professionals and features in-depth interviews with industry professionals and experts whose messages will focus on specific processes that move listeners in their departments and within the profession. The podcast gives an in-depth look at the physical and mental processes that stand as the essential base. Check out PROCESS THIS! on your favorite platform.

New Beyond Clean episode now available
This week’s guest is Brandon Huffman, BS, ST, CRCST, CIS, CHL, infection preventionist with the Peace Health System and new strategic content manager at Beyond Clean. The topic is the good, bad, and long-term impact of sterile processing consulting experiences from the perspective of department managers and frontline staff.


Issue 44 – 11/3

Prep, Pack, Politics: Navigating a Culture of Divisiveness in a Department That Must Stick Together by Hank Balch
There’s no use acting like the world outside our hospitals isn’t in differing stages of lockdown, rioting, shooting, campaigning, and protesting. Tensions are high, relationships are on edge, and many folks are coming out of their respective corners swinging—metaphorically and sometimes even literally.

Wherever you land on the political spectrum from left to right, or somewhere else off the map, you likely work with people that you will not agree with politically. While you may never march together in a public demonstration, you will find yourself elbow to elbow with them on a daily basis, decontaminating medical devices in the name of patient safety. So how do you navigate the political landmines that make headlines on the evening news and not lose focus on the primary mission of your role as sterile processing professionals?

Face mask aims to deactivate virus to protect others
Researchers at Northwestern University have developed a new concept for a mask that aims to make the wearer less infectious. The main idea is to modify mask fabrics with antiviral chemicals that can sanitize exhaled, escaped respiratory droplets.

CDC launches Project Firstline infection control training program
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has launched Project Firstline, a national training collaborative for healthcare infection prevention and control.

The pandemic and the ASC: How surgery center leaders can manage through the challenges of COVID-19
COVID-19 has had a significant impact on ASCs, creating new financial challenges and complicating inventory management. The pandemic has also presented challenges to care delivery and workforce management.

Aspirin use reduces risk of death in hospitalized COVID-19 patients
A study led by researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine found that hospitalized COVID-19 patients who were taking a daily low-dose aspirin to protect against cardiovascular disease had significantly lower risk of complications and death compared to those who were not taking aspirin. The patients were less likely to be placed in the ICU or hooked up to a ventilator, and they were more likely to survive the infection.

Visit the Vizient Vaccine Resource Center
Vizient has a comprehensive COVID-19 Vaccine Resource Center that includes a vaccine development tracker, vaccine candidate comparison document, links to resources, news, and more. Vizient members can also access the latest clinical, surgical, and pharmacy supply updates.

Registration is open for free Safety Burst Sterile Processing Safety Conference
This Saturday, November 2, Tom Overbey from Ultra Clean Systems will take part in the Safety Burst Sterile Processing Safety Conference. Safety Burst is a free one-day virtual conference that is the sterile processing industry’s first ever conference focused exclusively on safety topics in sterile processing departments.

New Beyond Clean episode now available
This week the hosts at Beyond Clean talk to Kris Murphy, PhD, director of chemistry, R&D at Cantel Medical about all things research, development, and chemistry in the context of medical device reprocessing. Kris brings tremendous insight into the typical life of a scientist in our industry, and he has a little fun as discussing the real challenges facing frontline personnel.