New findings just published in a JAMA Internal Medicine research letter show superbugs are increasing in facilities, such as hospitals, nursing homes and other post-acute care facilities. Due to the overuse of antibiotics in many healthcare settings, certain strains of several infectious bacteria have evolved to be resistant to treatment with the drugs, making them even more dangerous than other strains. Increasing levels of superbugs happen as seniors go from hospitals to nursing homes or other facilities and bring the superbugs with them, adding to the mix already present. 25 percent of superbugs get passed on by clinging to the hands of patients entering a facility. To further distribute superbugs, today’s aging patients want to be active and choose to stay in facilities that offer group activities and social events. Upon leaving their rooms, they’re touching areas of a care facility’s environment and intermingling with healthcare workers and other frail patients, thereby putting them at risk for acquiring new multidrug-resistant organisms (MDRO) and passing on the ones they already have. In practice, health care providers can minimize the spread of resistant infections by using proper sanitation techniques including hand washing or disinfecting between each patient, and should encourage the same of the patient, visitors, and family members. “Patient hand washing is not a routine practice in hospitals,” according to Lona Mody, M.D., M.Sc., research scientist at the Ann Arbor VA Geriatrics Research Education and Clinical Center. Hand hygiene can be increased through frequent hand washing, educational posters, educational modules, and hand hygiene products such as alcohol gel. One strategy to increase awareness is to physically show patients the superbugs that grow on hands by growing them in the lab. Reference: Multidrug-Resistant Organisms on Patients’ Hands: A Missed Opportunity,” Research Letter, JAMA Internal Medicine March 14, 2016. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.0142 and http://www.eurekalert.org
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