Stopping UTIs in senior citizens with a pixie pad

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.-- Urinary tract infections in the senior population are very common and they can even be deadly.

“If a urinary tract infection goes too long and it’s unidentified especially if you’re dealing with a patient who is cognitively impaired,” said Debbie Bowman of American Senior Communities. “It can absolutely increase with respect to the infection to the point of being septic.”

As a way to prevent full-blown UTIs, American Senior Communities Brownsburg meadows is taking part in a trial called the pixie program.

“We’ve been doing it for about seven months,” says Helen Gebar of ASC. “And it’s been very effective.”

The pixie program is essentially a pad with a code on the back. The patient wears the pad for three hours in their absorbent underwear. The pad collects urine and with a quick scan of an app on a smartphone, bacteria, specifically nitrites, can be detected.

“The colors you see on the back of the pad, they are invisible,” says Fanus Tesfagabir. “When they are soaked with fluid they will show all the colors, which the system will interpret.”

Fanus, who helps administer the pixie program, checks the six to seven patients enrolled in the trial at least two times a week. If a patient starts coming down with a UTI, the nursing team pushes fluids on the patient, in an attempt to prevent the infection from getting started.

“We’ve actually implemented a cranberry cocktail in the afternoon or sometimes the cranberry tablets. If we see that a resident is nitrite positive,” says Debbie Bowman.

The team gets the results from the scan within a business day. It’s sent to them by way of email. This has resulted, according to bowman, in fewer trips to the hospital and fewer prescribed antibiotics for clients. The program does have a need for more male patients. But if the results hold, American Senior Communities may be looking to expand the pixie program to all of its facilities state wide.

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