The Problem

Global Health Condition

A Healthcare-associated infection (HAI) is an infection occurring in a patient during the process of care in a health-care facility, which was not present or incubating at the time of admission. This includes infections acquired in the facility but appearing after discharge, as well as occupational infections among staff. HAIs are the most frequent adverse event in health care delivery worldwide and are classified as an epidemic by the World Health Organization (WHO).

In the United States, it is well established that the cost to treat HAIs is increasing. Among these, Surgical Site Infections (SSIs) are the most common healthcare-associated infections in patients. SSIs account for a substantial portion of all healthcare-associated infections and high percentage of total costs. 

A surgical site infection is an infection that occurs after surgery in the part of the body where the surgery took place.  In the United States, a significant fraction of both adults and children who undergo surgery, develop an SSI. The portion of children who are affected is considerable.

On a larger scale, SSI is the leading infection in the general patient population in developing countries, affecting up to one third (1/3) of operated patients and with a frequency 9 times higher than in developed countries.

The prevention of SSIs is increasingly important as the number of surgical procedures performed in the United States continues to rise.  This provides increased opportunities that may negatively impact the patient and healthcare systems. 

To date, the strategies for preventing SSIs have not been as effective as needed, as shown by the steep growth in deaths throughout the years and the fact that the cost consequences continue to grow exponentially. Current alternatives have several challenges among which are: little residual activity, inconsistent effectiveness against fungi, and the fact that organic matter, soap and pH variations will render them ineffective. Furthermore, cases of hearing loss have been reported; eye injuries can occur, and the agents can’t be used on large open wounds.