• Baxter Healthcare (Deerfield, Illinois) said it has received FDA clearance for expanded labeling for the first antimicrobial needleless intravenous (IV) connector, V-Link Luer-activated device (LAD) with VitalShield protective coating. With a new federal policy restricting reimbursement for healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) having taken effect on Oct. 1, healthcare professionals are seeking effective techniques and technologies to reduce the risk of contamination from a broad array of pathogens (infection-causing agents) within their hospitals. Launched earlier this year, V-Link with VitalShield has been shown to kill at least 99.99% of six common pathogens known to cause catheter-related bloodstream infections.

• Benefitfocus (Charleston, South Carolina) reported new technology aimed at standardizing the way data is formatted in the healthcare benefits industry. Benefitfocus Max Standard Solutions, the company's newest family of benefits communication technology solutions, allows insurance carriers and employers to realize the full benefit of their online benefits management investment by synchronizing transaction connections through a comprehensive data format. The Benefitfocus Max family was created to help carriers drive up adoption within the small employer market without having to be dependent on a manual process. Since small employers generally have less specific configurations than larger employers, manual loading is neither scalable nor cost-effective. In order to get the most out of their investment with Benefitfocus, insurers and employers need to migrate large volumes of users and associated data to new online platforms.

• Cook Medical (Bloomington, Indiana) reported the development of a new endoscopic product, Hercules, which it called the strongest three-stage balloon dilator for benign and malignant strictures in the esophagus. The endoscopy strategic business unit of Cook has designed with first-of-its-kind P.E.T.FLEX technology, the strongest dilation material available. Hercules generates greater radial force to a stricture at the same or lower pressures (when comparing the 18-19-20 balloon) than other stageable balloon dilators, providing longer, luminal patency and potentially allowing for a faster, more effective dilation procedure. Hercules' Rapid Deflation Sleeve3, combined with its Express Evacuation Catheter, allows for rapid deflation of the balloon simply by applying negative pressure to the inflation device. Even if gastroenterologists begin the withdrawal process prior to complete deflation, Hercules can still be easily withdrawn through the scope, making the procedure simpler and faster for the physician.

• EarlySense (Ramat Gan, Israel) said that the results of a clinical study of the EverOn system will be presented at the European Respiratory Society in Berlin on Oct. 6. EverOn is a continuous, contact-free, patient supervision system that measures patient parameters and alerts upon patient change in clinical condition. There are no leads or cuffs to connect to the patient, who has complete freedom of movement and is not burdened by any irritating attachments. EverOn detects heart and respiration rates as well as bed entries and exits, and patient movement. The device sounds an alert when a pre-set parameter threshold is crossed. The system also displays and records real time data on a continuous trend-line. The trend line display is designed to assist clinicians in predicting the progression of a patient's health and consequently avert critical events.

• Lucid (Rochester, New York) said that it has received FDA clearance to market its VivaScope system. VivaScope confocal imagers provide noninvasive, in vivo cellular resolution images of skin and are now specifically cleared "for review by physicians to assist in forming a clinical judgment." A VivaScope system may consist of a VivaScope 1500 confocal imaging head, a VivaScope 3000 imaging head, or both. The VivaScope 1500 is Lucid's second-generation in vivo confocal imager, designed for routine clinical examination of the skin. The VivaScope 3000 is a hand-held confocal imager, and can more easily access those areas of the skin that may be difficult to image with the 1500.

• Pioneer Surgical Technology (Marquette, Michigan) reported the market release of the Cross-Fuse lateral option system. The Cross-Fuse is Pioneer's latest addition to a family of PEEK (poly-ether-ether-ketone) VBRs. "The entire Cross-Fuse system, from implants to instrumentation, is well-thought-out," said Thomas Highland, MD, of the Columbia Orthopaedic Group (Columbia, Missouri). "The innovative design of the trial spacers and other instruments [is] very user-friendly, and the PEEK material in the Cross-Fuse implants causes no artifact in MRI or CT imaging."

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