But his work has moved beyond devices to surgical-site infections as well, as seen with his recent randomized, controlled study, published in the January 2010 New England Journal of Medicine, on using a chlorhexidine-alcohol scrub and paint—rather than the usual povidone-iodine scrub—to clean and prepare the skin around incisions to prevent surgical-site infections.
For years, the povidone-iodine solution has been used by surgeons without question. But after a four-year study, Darouiche and his colleagues found through a controlled trial that infection rates could be decreased by as much as 40% by substituting the chlorhexidine solution prior to surgery.
This is an example of the advantage that the "physician-scientist" can bring to the table in terms of infection control, according to Darouiche, who is the founder of the Multidisciplinary Alliance Against Device-Related Infections.
"As a physician scientist, we try to validate what is being done now. And if we find it's not valid, then we look for alternative options," he says. "We look outside of the box sometimes to find interventions that not only are more protective, but safer."
The Baylor College of Medicine licensing group helps promote technology transfers to the marketplace, a practice that generates a financial return for the faculty and the college.
Time, money, patience
Without institutional help, sometimes the path toward innovation and marketing can be an expensive and time-consuming endeavor, as one inventor, Richard Ma, MD, the director of hospital medicine at the 125-bed Saints Medical Center in Lowell, MA, has found.
Ma, concerned about the spread of infections and germs through the use of a stethoscope—both the diaphragm and the tubing—invented the Stethguard, an inexpensive disposable plastic cover. The idea evolved from his use of a latex glove to cover the end of the stethoscope when seeing patients; he thought there had to be a better way, especially when he realized after a swab test that the gloves carried bacteria, too.