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DuPont™ Tyvek® plays role in HAI prevention


In the United States, healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) affect 1.7 million hospital patients and result in an estimated 99,000 deaths annually.1 Of these infections, 22 percent are surgical site infections (SSIs). 

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 70 percent of HAIs are resistant to at least one drug commonly used to treat them. The antibiotic-resistant microbes causing these infections drive up the cost of healthcare because patients often need multiple rounds of treatment and have longer stays in the hospital.

In fact, an estimated $36 billion to $45 billion per year are spent on treatment and extended hospital stays, with SSIs accounting for $3.5 billion to $10 billion per year.2 More importantly, these infections can result in serious illness and death.

Increasing pressure to drive down the rate of HAIs

In 2008, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) implemented a non-payment policy to hospitals for the additional costs associated with treating patients for certain HAIs. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 included several provisions aimed at reducing HAIs.

Provisions were also included in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 that will penalize hospitals with the highest rates of HAIs. Beginning in 2015, these hospitals will be penalized one percent of their Medicare payment. Similarly, Medicaid will stop reimbursing facilities for preventable infections acquired in the course of treatment. Many private insurance companies have also implemented their own non-payment policies.

Hospitals respond

In response to these new penalties and non-payment policies, hospitals have started to develop and implement multifaceted approaches to monitor and prevent HAIs. Many HAIs can be prevented through the strict adherence to evidence-based best practices. Best practices focus on areas such as person-to-person transmission and prevention of transmission from the environment, including the packaging systems for sterile items.3

Senior hospital executives are also taking notice. Results from a strategic hospital priorities study indicated that measuring quality of care and patient outcomes will be a priority with hospital decision makers. What’s more, the study shows that hospitals of all sizes are generally willing to pay a 10 percent to 15 percent premium, on average, for devices and disposables that demonstrate an ability to reduce infection rates.4

A closer look at SSIs

SSIs include infections of the surgical wound and deep infections of organs and organ spaces. The first line of defense for deep infections is the packaging system containing the sterile item, such as an implantable medical device.

The package, or sterile barrier system, must prevent the ingress of microorganisms and allow aseptic presentation of the product at the point of use. Because the sterile barrier system is the first line of defense against infection, it is important to select a packaging material that provides the highest possible degree of protection.

DuPont™ Tyvek® delivers trusted protection

DuPont™ Tyvek® is recognized as a standard of excellence for sterile medical packaging because it provides a higher degree of protection for medical devices and supplies than any other porous material used for sterile packaging applications.

The unique structure of DuPont™ Tyvek® gives it inherent advantages over other materials. Specifically, DuPont™ Tyvek® offers:

  • Outstanding resistance to microbial penetration—even under the most rigorous conditions in highly contaminated environments, DuPont™ Tyvek® is highly resistant to penetration by bacterial spores and other contaminating microorganisms.
  • Significantly reduced risk of package failure—compared to medical-grade papers, DuPont™ Tyvek® provides superior puncture resistance and tear strength, which means that it does not puncture easily and tears do not readily propagate if a package is nicked.
  • Compatibility with a broad range of sterilization methods—unlike medical-grade papers and films, DuPont™ Tyvek® is compatible with all of the most commonly used sterilization methods. And, no matter which method is used, DuPont™ Tyvek® will retain its superior protective properties of microbial barrier and strength.
  • Low risk of device contamination—particulate generation tests comparing DuPont™ Tyvek® to medical-grade papers provide conclusive evidence that DuPont™ Tyvek® generates far fewer airborne particulates that could contaminate either the medical device or the sterile field.


HAIs create significant economic consequences for the healthcare system and can result in serious illness or death. Facing increasing penalties, non-payment policies and public outcry, hospitals are implementing multifaceted programs aimed at the prevention of HAIs.

As the first line of defense against infection during invasive surgical procedures, the sterile barrier system is a key to the success of HAI prevention programs. Sterile barrier systems consisting of DuPont™ Tyvek® provide a higher degree of protection than those consisting of other porous packaging materials because DuPont™ Tyvek® offers an optimum balance of microbial penetration resistance, tear strength, puncture resistance and clean peel.

Simply stated, DuPont™ Tyvek® provides protection when it matters most, enabling sterility maintenance of medical devices and supplies to help reduce HAIs and protect the health of patients.


  1. Klevens et al. Estimating health care-associated infections and deaths in U.S. hospitals, 2002, Pub Health Rep 2007, 122:160-6.
  2. Scott II RD. The direct medical costs of healthcare-associated infections in U.S. hospitals and the benefits of prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, 2009.
  3. Prevention of hospital-acquired infections, a practical guide. World Health Organization, 2nd edition, 2002.
  4. Jackson et al. Healthcare reform shifts hospital priorities, creates new opportunities for medtech companies. L.E.K. Consulting; Executive Insights Vol. XIII, Issue 4, 2011.