Hospital Infections Drop in AZ ; but Experts Say 'Nightmare Bacteria,' Other Superbugs Pose Serious Threats

By Innes, Stephanie | AZ Daily Star, March 4, 2016 | Go to article overview

Hospital Infections Drop in AZ ; but Experts Say 'Nightmare Bacteria,' Other Superbugs Pose Serious Threats


Innes, Stephanie, AZ Daily Star


Arizona hospitals reduced patient-infection rates, but antibiotic- resistant infections here remain a threat to safety, a federal report says.

Many of the most urgent and serious "superbug" antibiotic- resistant bacteria are a risk to patients while they are being treated in health care facilities for other conditions, and may lead to sepsis or death, federal officials say.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that on any given day, 1 in 25 patients have an infection that they picked up in the hospital. Officials have been pushing hospitals to do a better job keeping infections in check, with the government's Medicare program cutting payments to the worst hospitals.

The CDC looked at data from thousands of U.S. hospitals from 2008 through 2014, focusing on infections tied to certain surgical procedures and use of catheters.

Arizona significantly lowered its rate of Clostridium difficile, or C-diff, and Central Line-Associated Bloodstream infections (CLABSIs) between 2013 and 2014, the data show.

"We are trending in the right direction in the majority of the areas," said Sandra Severson, vice president of care improvement for the Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association. "But the work never stops. We still have a lot of work to do."

Severson said about half of C-diff infections are caused by inappropriate antibiotic usage, and that both providers and patients need to be mindful of appropriate antibiotic use. Hand hygiene and cleaning hospital rooms are also extremely important as the organism can live for long periods on hard surfaces, Severson said.

C-diff is the most common type of bacteria responsible for infections in hospitals.

CLABSIs can occur when a tube is placed in a large vein and not put in correctly or kept clean. It can become a way for germs to enter the body and cause deadly infections in the blood.

Arizona's rates of catheter-associated urinary tract infections , surgical site infections and MRSA infections showed no statistically significant change, the report says.

The state's rates of MRSA, while unchanged, were higher than the national standardized infection ratio, which is a risk-adjusted summary statistic used to track health care-associated infection prevention over time.

Arizona a pilot state

Arizona recently signed on to become one of five pilot states to work with the CDC on targeting C-diff, MRSA as well as other infections, Severson said.

The federal report released Thursday urges health care workers to use a combination of infection control recommendations to better protect patients from antibiotic resistant infections.

In acute-care hospitals, 1 in 7 catheter- and surgery-related health care-acquired infections can be caused by any of six antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

That number increases to 1 in 4 infections in long-term acute- care hospitals, which treat patients who are generally very sick and stay, on average, more than 25 days.

Six threats

The six antibiotic-resistant threats examined in the report are: Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE); Methicillin- resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA); ESBL-producing Enterobacteriaceae (extended-spectrum-lactamases); Vancomycin- resistant Enterococcus ; multidrug-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa; and multidrug-resistant Acinetobacter. …

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