Tag: Infection Prevention

Protecting Americans from Preventable Infections: Working Together Will Save Lives

Tom Frieden CDC“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” Those words spoken by Helen Keller nearly a century ago remain powerful and relevant today.

A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) projects that thousands of lives could be saved every year if health care facilities and public health departments work together to track and stop antibiotic resistance – and if they communicate with each other about these infections to prevent spread from one facility to another.

Even if one health care facility follows all recommended infection control practices, antibiotic-resistant organisms can spread when patients are transferred among facilities. Even the best health care facilities can’t go it alone when it comes to antibiotic-resistant infections and C. difficile.

We need to protect our whole community; advance warning of possible antibiotic-resistant infections at one facility allows actions to be taken to prevent spread at the receiving facility.

New modeling data from CDC project that a community-wide approach – in which hospitals, long-term acute care facilities, nursing homes and health departments across an area work together – could reduce the number of patients infected with carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (better known as CRE) by up to 70% over five years. CRE is a nightmare bacteria because it does not respond to most antibiotics and is extremely deadly should it enter the bloodstream – especially if a patient is already sick. A significant drop in these infections would be a life-saving scenario for patients.

Health care facility administrators are key to making this coordinated approach a success. Hospitals, long-term acute care facilities and nursing homes all need better systems to alert one another when transferring patients carrying drug-resistant bacteria and C. difficile. Strict infection control practices must be implemented in every health care setting, and clinical staff need access to prompt and accurate laboratory testing to identify antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Continue reading…

Germs. The Pseudoscience of Quality Improvement


No one wants a hospital-acquired infection—a wound infection, a central line infection, or any other kind.  But today, the level of concern in American hospitals about infection rates has reached a new peak—better termed paranoia than legitimate concern.

The fear of infection is leading to the arbitrary institution of brand new rules. These aren’t based on scientific research involving controlled studies.  As far as I can tell, these new rules are made up by people who are under pressure to create the appearance that action is being taken.

Here’s an example.  An edict just came down in one big-city hospital that all scrub tops must be tucked into scrub pants. The “Association of periOperative Registered Nurses” (AORN) apparently thinks that this is more hygienic because stray skin cells may be less likely to escape, though there is no data proving that surgical infection rates will decrease as a result.  Surgeons, anesthesiologists, and OR nurses are confused, amused, and annoyed in varying degrees.  Some are paying attention to the new rule, and many others are ignoring it.  One OR supervisor stopped an experienced nurse and told to tuck in her scrub top while she was running to get supplies for an emergency aortic repair, raising (in my mind at least) a question of misplaced priorities.

Continue reading…