PITA Fiscal Year 2010 Projects - Biomedical and Health Engineering

Reducing Cost and Increasing Safety in Pennsylvania Hospitals: An Automated Blood Immunoassay System for the Early Detection of Hospital Acquired Infection (HAI)

Principal Investigators: Alan Rosenbloom, Fred Lanni

Infections acquired within the hospital, also known as HAIs, complicate many admissions. These infections impose a significant burden on patients, their families, and the health care system. Ultimately, high health care costs increase operating expenses for companies and directly reduce economic competitiveness and the number of jobs available.

In Pennsylvania, which has imposed a state-wide requirement for the reporting of all HAIs, there were 27,949 HAIs in 2007. In a study of all 165 general hospitals in Pennsylvania that year, the average hospital bill for patients with HAI was increased 5 times and their risk of death 6 times compared to patients without HAI. Delayed diagnosis of serious HAI is common and the cost of late therapy is high; it has been shown that each hour of delay increases the risk of death by nearly 7%. A major cause of treatment delay is the current reliance on non-specific clinical signs and laboratory tests for diagnosis.

This project will apply technologies developed at Carnegie Mellon University to produce a monitoring system that continuously samples the blood stream through a simple intravenous (IV) catheter. The blood will be tested for signs of infection that commonly precede symptoms and currently available lab tests. This will allow the earliest possible diagnosis and treatment of these infections.