Sunday, November 14, 2010

Superbugs in the news

Unfortunately, all is not well in the hospitals of our nation.
There is a major decision one makes about phoning in sick, no matter your profession. WCBA ran a show on this topic. As a teacher I remember falling to the floor with a migraine and worrying about my students who were soon to enter the room after lunch recess!

We civilians are at great risk for contracting hospital-acquired diseases, some call them Superbugs, read more in a previous post. There are a couple to be worried about. These antibiotic-resistant bacteria are surviving on hard and soft surfaces, and contaminating those places where we used to feel safe. Anyone in hospital, due to the nature of their frail health, is vulnerable. They have been found on pet therapy dogs, on curtains, as well as on the gowns that staff wear. I know that my Dad's long-term care residence has several bad bouts with infestations of scabies. Someone kept bringing it back into the facility. An entire floor was closed as they sought to treat these frail seniors.

Here is the latest case of C. diff:

A hospital in Peterborough stopped admitting patients to one of its units as of Friday because of an "uncommon" outbreak of three different bacteria, including two superbugs.

Having worked in health care in rural Ontario, the mere fact that a nurse cannot be replaced is a huge factor. Continuity of care is important in long-term care, home care, and other settings. Even support workers (e.g., PSWs) are culled from outside agencies in a pinch, and give less than ideal care to patients/residents/clients. Much has been written on having staff who understand residents, yet shortages mean new staff do not necessarily understand the needs of those in their care.

In the news: 

Peterborough Regional Health Centre is investigating several cases of Clostridium difficile (C. difficile), methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE). There have been 11 cases of MRSA since Nov. 5. The first of seven C.difficile cases dates back to Oct. 22. There are two cases of VRE. (Nov. 13, 2010)

There are many protocols that will prevent this type of issue from recurring. One excellent article:
Campbellford Memorial Hospital’s antibiotics stewardship program puts patient safety in the hands of caring physicians 

A large portion of the hospital’s patients are elderly people with more complex and multiple health issues. Those most susceptible to acquiring C. diff are elderly patients:
  • With a history of antibiotic usage
  • With pneumonia being treated with antibiotics such as clindamycin, fluoroquinolones, and cephalosporins or 
  • Who have had bowel surgery, chemotherapy, or prolonged hospitalization.

The article cites the importance of early detection, if not prevention. Since the introduction of the Antibiotic Stewardship Program and the hospital’s full public reporting on patient safety indicators including Clostridium Difficile (C. diff) in August, 2008, CMH has had only one C. diff case in the past two years. 

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