Another Hospital Superbug Outbreak


Hospital Patient Eating AppleApparently they’re fairly frequent. This time, it’s an endoscope facility in LA, and the superbug in question isn’t MRSA, but carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, or CRE. Remembering that many patients are already sick/have a weakened immune system when they get it, the survival rate is only about 50%.

It’s the same story as the hospital in Seattle, who recently came out that a scope had spread MRSA to several patients, with more being tested. Scopes are reusable, but the FDA approved, manufacturer recommended cleaning directions aren’t enough to sterilize superbugs. Specifically, the scopes have a complex design that makes them hard to clean. Some are calling for a change to disposable scopes, but that would make testing more expensive. The contaminated scopes have been removed from use, and more stringent, voluntary cleaning is being used.

Hospital Acquired Infections (also known as healthcare-associated infections, because it’s not just hospitals) affect at least 1 in 25 hospital patients. Just being a patient in a hospital carries a .05% risk of dying from an HAI.

Scopes and other tools are one risk of infection. Some manufacturers are incorporating nano silver into their designs, making catheters and other common devices safer.

The largest source of infection, however, is touching. Not just doctor patient, but cloth (hard to clean) surfaces like curtains, etc., as well as seldom cleaned surfaces like walls. Again, there’s been some innovations relying on the antibacterial properties of nano silver (nano silver coatings, basically), but the biggest deterrent is hand washing. Hospitals that strictly (or innovatively, using cameras or beeping IDs) enforce handwashing have dramatically lowered HAI rates!

The CDC has the following recommendations for patients:

-Be Proactive! Talk to your doctor about preventing HAIs, and don’t be afraid to question your treatment. For example, the CDC recommends asking each day if you need a catheter (UTIs are common).

-Handwashing. Everyone who comes in should wash their hands, and it’s ok to be the one to remind them.

-Realize that many diseases aren’t caused by bacteria, so don’t pester your doctor for a prescription. In fact, you should make sure the prescription is necessary and accurate.

-Watch for infection—you’re in a great place to catch it early. Fever, redness, swelling, and drainage should all be reported to your doctor. If (as a hospital patient, or someone on antibiotics) you experience diarrhea 3 or more times in a day, tell your doctor.

And of course, support your immune system. If you hate hospital food, make sure you’re taking a good multivitamin, or have a friend bring you meals. Talk to the nurses about getting sleep (maybe they can check on you less, or more quietly). And of course, support your immune system with colloidal silver!

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