Preparing To Battle Superbugs

August 10, 2015

Making Up A Hospital RoomWith a rise in superbugs (and hospital acquired infections) predicted, the CDC and FDA have new guidelines to curb their spread…sort of.

Superbugs, or antibiotic resistant bacteria, are a huge and growing problem for hospitals. Hospital acquired infections affect an estimated 1 in 25 patients everyday, with almost 10% eventually dieing from the infection. And while (as with almost infections) having a weakened immune system is a big factor—everyone is at risk. More than half of hospital acquired infections occur outside of the intensive care unit (and superbugs are a big part of that!).

What kind of hospital acquired infections could you be facing? There are pneumonia superbugs like Klebsiella pneumonia that often travel between elder care centers and hospitals; MRSA sticks and spreads to surfaces everywhere, making keeping things clean difficult; and even non-superbugs (just super virulent) viruses are a problem, like Hepatitis C.

What sorts of advice is being doled out?

The CDC wants hospitals to work together. What goes on under the roof of one will infect them all (basically). So while you may carefully hospital shop, if there’s one down the block where hand-washing isn’t enforced (a huge disease spreader for hospitals), or a small MRSA outbreak isn’t reported, being choose-y won’t matter.

With everything hospitals already have on their plate, including competing with each other for patients, it will be interesting to see if/when these sorts of cooperative policies get put into practice.

Meanwhile, the FDA has comeback with recommendations for scope cleaning (a response to outbreaks discovered earlier this year)… and they’re not much different than their initial, top-of-their-head suggestions from months ago. They also come with the caveat that there’s no way to ensure scopes don’t spread germs!

What can you do? Vigilance: it’s as simple as making sure obvious things, like hand-washing, throwing out needles, breaking seals on medicine, is happening (you’d be surprised how much it doesn’t, and the difference speaking up can make).

And don’t forget to support your immune system. Not just because if you’re in a hospital you probably need it, but because being a hospital patient is its own risk.

What are your thoughts on hospital practices? Are you optimistic they can work together to fight infection?

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