Nursing Home Residents at Risk of Terrifying New Superbug

Post #1 image. 2012-12-06.jpgA recent article discussed a terrifying new superbug that has caused chaos across the healthcare industry, leading to deaths even in major national hospitals. The bug, known as Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae, or CRE, is known for fighting off doctors’ last line of defense, carbapenem antibiotics. The bacteria are causing serious concern among those in healthcare facilities, especially nursing homes, as it tends to prey on the most vulnerable patients.

The bacteria was in the news this summer after a CRE strain attacked the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center outside Washington, D.C. Seven people ultimately died as a result. Research shows that since the first case of a CRE infection was reported in a North Carolina hospital back in 2001, there have been thousands of CRE cases throughout the country, showing up as everything from pneumonia to intestinal and urinary tract infections.

The bacteria’s resistance to even the strongest antibiotics has some worried about doctors’ ability to control the illness, especially in places like nursing homes. Death rates among patients with CRE infections are around 40 percent, much worse than other common healthcare infections such as MRSA or C-Diff, which have been problems for nursing homes for decades.

Since starting in North Carolina, CREs have spread to at least 41 other states, according to the CDC. Many more cases have gone unreported given that it can be difficult to obtain a proper lab test confirming the presence of the bacteria in smaller hospitals and nursing homes. Most nursing homes lack the capacity to identify CRE or the resources to isolate patients carrying the bacteria.

One example of how bad the bacteria can be comes from Los Angeles County where one year of surveillance through mid-2011 turned up 675 cases at hospitals, nursing homes and clinics. In Maryland, a 2011 survey by the state health department identified 269 patients carrying CRE and estimated that up to 80 percent of the state’s hospitals had seen at least one case during the year.

Sadly, for at-risk patients in nursing homes throughout Mississippi there is little chance that a new drug will be developed to kill the CRE bacteria. Manufacturers have said they have no new antibiotics in development that are able to kill the bacteria. Moreover, there’s little financial incentive for drug companies to act given the bacteria’s ability to adapt to new drugs and become resistant to them as well.

That means it’s up to nursing homes to do what it takes to prevent the development and spread of such a deadly illness. Nursing homes in Mississippi need to do the proper lab tests and implement procedures to ensure that their most vulnerable patients are kept safe from CRE infections.

If you or a loved has been sickened by an infection at a nursing home and have questions, come talk to one of our Mississippi injury attorneys about what possible legal options you have to receive compensation. If you have questions about a medical negligence or nursing home matter, please call the Mississippi personal injury attorneys at Kobs & Philley toll free at (601) 863-8170.

Source: “Deadly ‘superbugs’ invade U.S. health care facilities,” by Peter Eisler, published at USAToday.com.

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