Public Release: 

Mass. doctor invents product to curb hospital-acquired infections

Massachusetts doctor Richard H. Ma invents product to curb hospital-acquired infections

Saints Medical Center

Lowell, MA. - November, 2010 - Saints Medical Center is pleased to announce that Richard H. Ma, M.D, chair of its hospitalist department, has received a patent for a lightweight plastic cover for stethoscopes that will dramatically reduce hospital-acquired infections.

Stethguard is a V-shaped clear plastic cover that protects the head of the stethoscope up to its neck, where most of the germs and bacteria are located. Saints Medical Center will be the first hospital in the country putting Stethgaurd into practice.

A study conducted in 2009 by the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School showed that roughly one out of three stethoscopes used by emergency department personnel contained the virus methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) . Additionally, the study showed that the longer the instrument remains un-sanitized, the higher the probability that it carries the MRSA virus.

"Using this cover will help curb nosocomial hospital-acquired infections," Dr. Ma said. "I developed this cover in response to the alarming rise nationally of these types of infections".

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advise stethoscope cleanings between patient exams and the use of dedicated room equipment for patients carrying a communicable disease and in isolation. However, compliance to this policy is often in the 50 percent range.

The entire staff at Saints Medical Center will be trained on the Stethgaurd protocol. "We are committed to minimizing infection rates and cross-contamination," Saints Medical Center CEO Stephen J. Guimond said.

Beginning in 2008, Medicare began monitoring hospital-acquired infections (errors) and began basing reimbursements on the level of errors. By utilizing the Stethguard, hospitals can minimize errors and increase reimbursements.

"As healthcare providers, we are entrusted with our patient's health and well being. As such we must do everything in our power to avoid inadvertently infecting our patients," Dr. Ma said.

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About Saints Medical Center

Saints Medical Center is a not-for-profit, full service, acute care community hospital serving Greater Lowell and the Merrimack Valley since 1839. A 163-bed licensed medical center, Saints provides advance health services to 315,000 residents in 25 towns. With nearly 400 physicians and 1,400 employees, Saints Medical Center is well known for outstanding medical care and patient-centered facilities including its Centers of Excellence in Cancer Care, Orthopedics, Cardiovascular Services and Women's Health. Saints also offers community-based care at several ambulatory sites and is dedicated to promoting health and wellness in the community. Saints has clinical affiliations with leading Boston academic medical centers and is proud to be one of the top-rated hospitals in Massachusetts according to the Joint Commission.

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