Purdue University – UTI Sensor
UTIs, the bane of our existence in post-acute care and assisted living communities, right? When you consider how uncomfortable they can be for residents along with falls, sepsis, rehospitalization and expensive treatments related to UTIs, isn’t it great that Purdue University has researched and developed a simple way to predict when a UTI may be brewing?
That’s right, Purdue University researchers from the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering have developed an autonomous device that is embedded in a resident’s brief and triggers a message to a smart phone when the presence of Nitrates is identified. For those “non-clinicians”, Nitrates are often the first abnormal finding in a urine specimen that signal a UTI. Many centers currently use dip sticks to test for the presence of Nitrates however this practice is often difficult as obtaining a specimen from a resident who is incontinent or suffering with dementia isn’t an easy task. So often obtain specimens using a straight catheter which is not without risks including UTIs!
With this device, it is not necessary to obtain a specimen unless you are notified that there are Nitrates in the urine/brief. Then it is a medical decision as to whether to treat on the assumption that there is an active infection or obtain a specimen for culture to confirm. Remember, many residents cannot assist in determining if they “meet the criteria” for an active infection which makes it that much more difficult to identify early in the process.
Another advantage for using this device is that the system provides data on a regular basis, improving accuracy based on the amount of data collected. The system can also detect changes in the status of a urinary tract infection over time by identifying an increase/decrease of Nitrates in the urine. The researchers are now working on sizing, packaging, embedding methods, smart phone applications, etc. which will allow the technology to be user friendly as well as cost effective.
Just think of what we could do with this type of technology! Imagine if you will, not waiting for Emily to fall again or for George to become combative before we identify an active infection! This technology can not only improve the quality of life for residents but think about your infection rates, Quality Measures, rehospitalizations, survey citations, antibiotic stewardship, etc. The list is endless and the solution may be within our reach very soon.
Stay tuned for updates and if you would like to read more about the research being done please go to the links below.