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Hospital CSI

May 21, 2008

Hospitals are using crime scene investigation techniques to root out infections.


A high-tech infection buster….I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

On the hit TV series CSI, investigators use a substance called luminol to detect blood at crime scenes, even if it has been cleaned up. Luminol reacts with the iron in blood, producing a blue glow. Now a Dutch hospital is using it to fight infections rather than crime. When Deventer Hospital in the Netherlands had an outbreak of hepatitis C in its kidney dialysis ward, infection control practitioner Paul Bergervoet suspected that doctors and nurses were unknowingly spreading infected blood from patient to patient.

PAUL BERGERVOET (Deventer Hospital, the Netherlands):
When I was sitting on the couch at home, watching crime scene investigations, I see them use luminol and had this great idea.

Since then, the hospital has used luminol to educate its staff about the importance of changing gloves between each patient, and hepatitis C has been eliminated. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the science society.