Antibiotic-Resistant Infections: Nationwide Efforts to Reduce Risk

By on 9:10 AM

Multidrug-resistant organisms (MDROs) continue to plague the healthcare industry, with Clostridium difficile and carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriacea (CRE) taking the lead in healthcare-acquired infections that often result in deadly consequences.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in their most recent Vital Signs report, approximately 37,000 deaths would be prevented over the course of a five-year period if a coordinated approach was undertaken by small and large healthcare alliances. 

This coordinated effort would begin with observation by public health departments of outbreaks in the region, alerting local healthcare facilities and collaborating with them and other public health authorities to combat the spread. It is thought that these efforts would improve transmission prevention across the continuum of care compared to independent efforts. The researchers estimated that over the five years, this effort would save roughly $7.7 billion in direct health costs.

Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH, director of the CDC, stated, "Working together, plainly said, is better than working alone. We need to think in terms of the whole community. Facilities which go it alone can’t effectively protect their own patients. If you’re a hospital doing a great job but the hospital across town or the doctor down the street is not doing a good job, your patients are at risk."

In order to proceed with this plan, CDC has proposed a $264 million increase in the budget for fiscal year 2016. Frieden noted, "If we just stay with business as usual, there will be hundreds of thousands of infections and tens of thousands of deaths that could be prevented. We know what needs to be done, and now, frankly, it's up to Congress to support the resources needed to protect Americans from drug-resistant bacteria."

Efforts to reduce the risk of patients acquiring these deadly organisms have been ongoing for a number of years. Antimicrobial stewardship programs are mandated by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, particularly in acute care hospitals where the injudicious use of antibiotics, in particular, directly impact the bacterial resistance plaguing the nation.

Infection Control Consulting Services assists healthcare facilities with programs to decrease the spread of MDROs. They include antimicrobial stewardship programs and infection prevention strategies that address many areas, such as effective identification and isolation of patients at risk for transmitting and acquiring infections related to MRSA, VRE, CRE, ESBLs and Clostridium difficile.

Phenelle Segal, RN, CIC, FAPIC

Phenelle Segal, RN, CIC, FAPIC, is the founder and president of Infection Control Consulting Services LLC (ICCS). Phenelle has more than 30 years' experience providing customized comprehensive infection control and prevention services to healthcare facilities nationwide. Her services focus on assisting hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, dental office and oral surgery practices, doctor's offices, nursing homes and other organizations with implementing and maintaining an infection control program that: complies with The Joint Commission, AAAHC, Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) and other regulatory agencies; respond to situations of noncompliance; and improve the processes for reducing risk.