Both hospitals and nursing homes in the state of California and Illinois are banding together in an effort to stop the spread of dangerous superbugs that are antibiotic-resistant and can kill thousands of people each year. The process is as simple as washing their patients with a special soap. The federal government's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provided funding of around $8 million to help test the process at 50 facilities in the two states.
Why the strong collaborative efforts?
Unfortunately, these superbugs don't isolate themselves to nursing homes or hospitals but can spread through communities infecting people rapidly and creating neighborhood and community epidemics. Research has shown that approximately two million people will become infected with some form of bacteria that is resistant to antibiotics at some point during the year. Each year 23,000 people will die from these infections.
The reason that they are starting in these types of facilities is that patients in these facilities are the most vulnerable when it comes to contracting these bugs. In fact, up to 65 percent of inhabitants in nursing homes can harbor drug-resistant organisms. This does not mean that they will necessarily develop an infection, but can easily pass it along to others.
There are many types of resistant bugs, but some of the most common that are transmitted in nursing homes and hospitals include:
- Staphylococcus aureus, also known as MRSA is methicillin-resistant
- Enterobacteriaceae, also known as CRE or the nightmare bacteria, is carbapenem-resistant. Both Klebsiella pneumoniae and E. Coli fall into this category.
What is the special soap, and how does it work?
While containing dangerous bacteria has been a challenge for nursing home and hospital facilities, workers found that using the soap chlorhexidine can help reduce the infections when the patients are bathed with it. This type of wash had been frequently used in hospital intensive care units to prevent infections, but it was not commonly used in nursing homes, or other wards of the hospitals.
The study to determine the effects that this soap can have on preventing the spread of dangerous bacteria throughout hospitals and nursing homes started with 14 nursing homes and long-term acute care hospitals in Chicago. These facilities have staff screening people for bacteria and washing patients with chlorhexidine daily.
In California, 36 hospitals and nursing homes tried using an antiseptic bath along with a nasal swab to prevent patients who have the bacteria from developing infections, and prevent others from contracting the bacteria.
Results of the study have shown promise. After six months of using chlorhexidine on patients who carried the MRSA bacteria on their skin, patients were able to reduce their risk of getting a MRSA infection by 30 percent. They used chlorhexidine as a mouthwash, for bathing, and also used nasal antibiotics. While all of the results from the Chicago study are still pending, the 18-month study showed a reduction in drug-resistant organisms by 34 percent in patients in the hospital long-term care facilities and a 25 percent decline in nursing homes.
The new goal of the project is to target CRE. The new funding will focus on the patients in intensive care who have the bacteria, and in nursing homes and long-term acute facilities, it will be used as a way to decolonize patients of the bacteria.
Sometimes contracting an antibiotic-resistant bacteria can be due to the negligence of the hospital or nursing care staff, and failure to get it under control can have devastating consequences If you or your loved one contracted an infection due to negligence, it is critical to contact an attorney immediately to determine if you are entitled to compensation.