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Surgical robots are impossible to clean, all machines contaminated

Surgical robots

(NaturalNews) The establishment medical industry says that the 'next big thing' in their industry is the introduction of robots to conduct some surgical procedures. But a new study from Tokyo and New York has found that these devices have some major drawbacks with sterility.

Researchers have discovered that surgical robots cannot be satisfactorily cleaned – an ominous finding, considering that machines are becoming more and more common in operating rooms, including one New York hospital that recently acquired one to perform vaginal procedures, the UK's Daily Mail reported.

The study's findings reveal that it is absolutely impossible to clean robotic devices thoroughly, meaning there is also no way to avoid the risk of a post-operative infection using a robotic surgical device.

"One of the top priorities for hospitals is to treat patients safely and with minimal risk of infection," said Yuhei Saito, RN, PHN, MS, the lead author of the study and an assistant professor at the University of Tokyo Hospital.

Saito added that the results of the study found that robotic surgical instruments may be putting patients at risk because of the way such instruments are currently being cleaned. "One way to address this issue is to establish new standards for cleaning surgical instruments, including multi-part robotic tools," the lead author noted.

Even manufacturers' cleaning instructions are not effective

The study has been published in the journal Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology, which is published by the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America.

To conduct the study, researchers analyzed 132 robotic and ordinary surgical instruments over a period of 21 months. Instruments were immediately collected after they were used, in order to determine their level of contamination, the Daily Mail reported.

Scientists involved in the study used in-house cleaning methods, including manual procedures utilizing ultrasonication, as per the manufacturers' instructions. They gathered measurements of protein concentration after three subsequent cleanings to gauge the total amount of residual protein.

Because of the complex structure inherent to robotic instruments, they had a much greater protein resident and a lower cleaning efficacy when they were compared to ordinary instruments used manually by surgeon.

As such, the researchers suggested in their findings that it could become necessary to devise new cleaning standards that employ repeated measurements of residual protein rather than measuring contamination only one time after instruments have been cleaned.

As noted further by Medical Xpress, the cleanings were 97.6 percent effective for robotic instruments versus 99.1 percent effective for ordinary surgical instruments.

Just bathing patients before surgery can help cut down on the number of post-surgical infections

"These instruments are wonderful tools that allow surgeons to operate with care, but completely decontaminating them has been a challenge for hospitals," Saito said. The researcher added that the implementation of new cleaning procedures that include repeated measurements "of the level of contamination on an instrument more than once" would lead to the reduction of post-operative infection in "many patients."

Hospital-borne infections have been a rising problem in the U.S. for years. In 2012 CBS News reported that bloodstream infections caused at least 30 percent of the [then-] estimated 99,000 annual hospital-infection-related deaths in the U.S.

According to the magazine Consumer Reports, hospital infection rates varied greatly even in the same region. And The Associated Press reported that as many as 30 million surgical procedures are done each year, and that of those a half-million patients develop surgical-site infections, mostly caused by the staph bacteria.

"A lot of people think it's all from the outside world, but these are your own germs," Dr. Robert Weinstein, an infectious disease expert at Cook County's Stroger Hospital in Chicago, told the AP in 2010.

A pair of studies released around that time found that simply bathing patients before surgery helped cut down on post-surgical infections.





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