MRSA and Klebsiella pneumoniae (the pneumonia superbug-CRKP) have become so common that hospitals no longer see it necessary to report it—even to the staff who work there.
In Maryland, it recently came out that the National Institute of Health in Bethesda had a superbug outbreak last year—and had a very hard time containing it (although their methods were published recently in a paper on controlling antibiotic resistant outbreak, so they didn’t cover it up forever). At the time, neither hospital staff nor local health officials were notified, much less the public.
Antibiotic resistance is a growing problem. Although there’s talk of trying to help the problem by incentivising pharmaceutical companies to develop new antibiotics, the truth is that won’t help much. Current strains of antibiotics capable of fighting superbugs like antibiotic resistant TB are already so harsh that even though they may kill the bacteria, they aren’t much good in the way of improving the health of the patient.
While local residents and hospital employees wish that they’d been notified about the threat of antibiotic resistance coming to their neck of the woods—the hospital has a point that antibiotic resistance is common enough now that you should pretty much assume it’s a risk anywhere. Knowing that, however, the hospital should have campaigned in the favor of public awareness: hand washing, room cleaning, etc. are some of the few remaining ways to stop—or at least slow—the spread of bacteria, superbugs included.
What kind of policy should hospitals have? How should they communicate with the public about antibiotic resistance? Share below!