Hospitals Should Take Steps to Prevent Deadly Superbug Outbreaks

A drug-resistant "superbug" is quickly spreading across the United States, alarming medical professionals and endangering patients in hospitals and long-term care facilities.

Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) is a class of bacteria that is immune to even today's strongest antibiotics. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), nearly half of all individuals who develop a bloodstream infection from CRE die. And the CDC reports that CRE has been found in medical facilities in 42 states.

Patients in healthcare facilities who are receiving care that involves certain medical devices are most susceptible to CRE infections. The devices include IV catheters, urinary catheters, and ventilators. This superbug, as it's called in media reports, can quickly spread among patients, typically by caregivers who handle medical equipment.

Hospitals and long-term health care facilities, therefore, should take proper precautions to help prevent the spread of CRE. The CDC lists the following steps that caregivers should take to avoid deadly superbug infections:

• Thorough and consistent hand washing by staff

• Better education of healthcare personal about the bacteria and how to prevent its transmission

• Use specific healthcare providers to treat CRE infections, and keep them away from uninfected patients

• Minimize the use of medical devices that have the most potential for CRE infections

• Keep patients infected with CRE isolated, either in their own room or with other CRE-infected individuals

• Rapid notification by laboratories when CRE infections are found


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