The prevalence of superbugs is a current hot topic in the healthcare industry, and with good reason. Superbug infections are caused by a group of bacteria that resist the most common antibiotics. There are 17 types of antibiotic-resistant microorganisms that kill an estimated 23,000 Americans each year. For example, the rate of short stay hospitals reporting Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) has increased from 1% to 4% over the past 10 years.[i]
According to FierceHealthcare there are several key measures that can help prevent superbug infections.
- Regularly screening any patients who may be at risk
- Frequently disinfecting all surfaces
- Implementing antibiotic stewardship programs
Most hospitals easily adhere to the first two measures – screening often and disinfecting even more. Many, though, are less stringent about antibiotic stewardship programs. The success of these programs is based on changing the behavior of physicians. Studies have shown that patients who come into contact with patients being treated by antibiotics are more likely to contract an infection, proving that stewardship is an important aspect of prevention.
The CDC has its own goals to reduce Clostridium difficile, MRSA, Pseudomonas species, and CRE infection rates by at least 50%, 35%, and 60% respectively.
Most healthcare officials will tell you that a post-antibiotic era in which common infections become deadly is both possible and terrifying. The rise of antibiotic resistant superbugs threatens the accomplishments of modern medicine.
The problem cannot be ignored.
Source article: Small, Leslie. 2015, April 27. Hospitals don’t do enough to stop C. diff spread. http://www.fiercehealthcare.com/story/hospitals-not-doing-enough-prevent-spread-c-diff/2015-04-27 Accessed April 29, 2015.
Revised: June 8, 2016