Superbug problem escalates

Antibiotic-resistant “superbugs.” It’s been called a global epidemic, and medical facilities are desperate for solutions. As most ScrubsMag nurses know, now even more hospitals are reporting patients have been infected by the superbugs that were recently found on medical scopes. This follows the recent news that seven patients were infected with the carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) bacteria at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.
And it’s not just in Los Angeles anymore. While Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles reported the bacteria was found in four patients, Hartford Hospital in Hartford, Connecticut found a “rise in cases of a different ‘superbug’” linked to the same type of duodenoscopes suspected of transmitting the germs in the previous cases, according to NBC News.

The superbug at Hartford Hospital is reported as being extended spectrum beta-lactamase E. coli (ESBL), a drug-resistant version of E. coli. The hospital’s chief medical officer released a statement saying that the hospital’s entire healthcare system—Hartford HealthCare—has discontinued use of the devices suspected of spreading the bacteria. He also said that the hospital is reaching out to all 281 patients who had undergone the endoscopic procedure suspected of spreading the bacteria during the past year.

The World Health Organization has made it a priority to standardize the way we assess and share information on drug-resistant infections. Meanwhile, hospitals are working to closely follow disinfection procedures for the duodenoscopes, and the FDA is currently working with the manufacturers of the scopes to find better ways to clean them.

In additional news, the L.A. Times reports that Veterans Affairs Department officials are currently investigating whether patients across the VA system may have been exposed to CRE.

The CRE bacteria in the scope case isn’t a threat to most healthy people — and most likely not to the healthcare workers who are caring for these patients.Although this hasn’t been fully updated since 2012, this CRE prevention toolkit contains important information and facility-level prevention strategies.

But all of us need to be on alert. According to Dr Keiji Fukuda, WHO’s Assistant Director-General for Health Security, “Without urgent, coordinated action by many stakeholders, the world is headed for a post-antibiotic era, in which common infections and minor injuries which have been treatable for decades can once again kill.”

See the WHO report here, and tell us what you think in the comments below.

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