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article imageOne in four seniors carries a superbug in hospital

By Tim Sandle     Mar 15, 2016 in Health
New research suggests that one in four people entering hospital in the U.S. is carrying a so-called "superbug" (an antimicrobial resistant bacterium.) In addition, seniors seem to pick up higher numbers of these organisms during their stay.
The data is based on a review of medical records from patients admitted into various U.S. hospitals. In total 337 older people were examined, with samples taken from the hands. It was found that just over 24 percent of the people carried at least one antimicrobial resistant bacterium, and at many of these were resistant to more than one antimicrobial substance (what are called multidrug-resistant organisms.)
The patients were later screened after two weeks stay in hospital and then each month until they were discarded (or until six-months had elapsed. It was found that the potentially pathogenic bacteria persisted and, in many cases, increased in number.
The reason why senior people seem to pick up higher levels of antimicrobial resistant organisms is due to the longer stay in hospital that is required (for operations and associated recoveries in relation to things like hip operations, for example.)
In addition to populations increasing, some seniors who were admitted without any superbugs being present later ended up as carriers. Thus, at the end of the study, the number of seniors with antimicrobial resistant organisms increased to almost 35 percent.
With the increase in the numbers of people affected, the change can only have come from the hospital environment; things introduced by visiting friends and family; or via the hands of healthcare workers.
With this latter point, Dr. Lona Mody, in a research note, lamented: “We've been educating healthcare workers for decades about hand hygiene, and these numbers show it's time to include patients in their own hand hygiene performance and education.” It is Mody’s view that a culture change is required.
Culture changes include further re-educating healthcare workers about hand hygiene; reducing the time the seniors spend in hospital; educating visitors about good hygiene; and having more hand hygiene products available.
A further reason for the presence of such organisms will relate to the use of antibiotics and antimicrobials, and here controls and restrictions need to be in place to prevent overuse and thus creating further opportunities for certain bacteria to acquire resistance.
The findings, from by University of Michigan microbiologists, are published in an article for JAMA Internal Medicine. The article is titled “Multidrug-Resistant Organisms on Patients’ Hands.”
More about Superbugs, Seniors, hospital visit, Hospital, Surgery
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