Superbugs threaten hospital patients


One in four catheter- and surgery related healthcare-associated infections are caused by six resistant bacteria in long-term hospitals

America is doing a better job of preventing healthcare-associated infections (HAIs), but more work is needed — especially in fighting antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) latest Vital Signs report urges healthcare workers to use a combination of infection control recommendations to better protect patients from these infections. ‘New data show that far too many patients are getting infected with dangerous, drug-resistant bacteria in healthcare settings,’ said CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH. ‘Doctors and healthcare facilities have the power to protect patients; no one should get sick while trying to get well.’

Many of the most urgent and serious antibiotic-resistant bacteria threaten patients while they are being treated in healthcare facilities for other conditions, and may lead to sepsis or death. In acute care hospitals, one in seven catheter- and surgery related HAIs can be caused by any of six antibiotic-resistant bacteria. That number increases to one in four infections in long-term acute care hospitals.

US hospitals doing better at preventing most HAIs

The national data in this Vital Signs report, along with data from CDC's latest annual progress report on HAI prevention, show that acute care hospitals have achieved

  • a 50% decrease in central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSIs) between 2008 and 2014
  • a 17% decrease in surgical site infections (SSIs) between 2008 and 2014 related to 10 procedures tracked in previous HAI progress reports
  • no change in the overall catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTIs) between 2009 and 2014.

CDC message to healthcare providers

CDC is calling on doctors, nurses, healthcare facility administrators and state and local health departments to continue to do their part to prevent HAIs. The report recommends doctors and nurses combine three critical efforts to accomplish this:

  • prevent the spread of bacteria between patients
  • prevent infections related to surgery and/or placement of a catheter
  • improve antibiotic use through stewardship.
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‘For clinicians, prevention means isolating patients when necessary,’ said Clifford McDonald, MD, Associate Director for Science at CDC's Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion. ‘It also means being aware of antibiotic resistance patterns in your facilities, following recommendations for preventing infections that can occur after surgery or from central lines and catheters placed in the body, and prescribing antibiotics correctly.’