CDC Report: “Superbugs” Threaten Hospital Patients

Six resistant bacteria cause 25% of catheter- and surgery-related HAIs

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) latest Vital Signs report urges health care workers to use a combination of infection-control recommendations to better protect patients from health care-associated infections (HAIs).

Many of the most serious antibiotic-resistant bacteria threaten patients while they are being treated in health care facilities for other conditions and may lead to sepsis or death, the CDC says. In acute-care hospitals, one in seven catheter- and surgery-related HAIs can be caused by any of the six antibiotic-resistant bacteria listed below. That number increases to one in four infections in long-term acute-care hospitals, which treat patients who are generally very sick and stay, on average, more than 25 days.

The six antibiotic-resistant threats examined are:

  • Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE)
  • Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)
  • Extended-spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL)-producing Enterobacteriaceae
  • Vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE)
  • Multidrug-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa
  • Multidrug-resistant Acinetobacter

The national data in the Vital Signs report, along with data from the CDC’s latest annual progress report on HAI prevention, indicate that acute-care hospitals have achieved:

  • A 50% decrease in central-line–associated bloodstream infections (CLABSIs) between 2008 and 2014
  • A 17% decrease in surgical-site infections (SSIs) between 2008 and 2014 related to 10 procedures tracked in previous HAI progress reports
  • No change in overall catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTIs) between 2009 and 2014

The Vital Signs report also examines the role of Clostridium difficile in hospital infections. C. difficile caused almost half a million infections in the U.S. in 2011. The CDC’s annual progress report showed an 8% decrease in hospital-onset C. difficile infections between 2011 and 2014.

The CDC is calling on doctors, nurses, health care facility administrators, and state and local health departments to continue to do their part to prevent HAIs. The report recommends that doctors and nurses combine three critical efforts:

  • Prevent the spread of bacteria between patients
  • Prevent infections related to surgery and/or placement of a catheter
  • Improve antibiotic use through stewardship

“For clinicians, prevention means isolating patients when necessary,” said Clifford McDonald, MD, Associate Director for Science at the CDC’s Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion. “It also means being aware of antibiotic resistance patterns in your facilities; following recommendations for preventing infections that can occur after surgery or from central lines and catheters placed in the body; and prescribing antibiotics correctly.”

Source: CDC; March 4, 2016.