Patient Safety and the Rise of Superbugs

Drug-resistant diseases

I recently heard on the news we’ve successfully made it through the cold and flu season. However, the pile of Kleenex in my garbage can and hacking co-workers, beg to differ. With many shared surfaces, we know our office is a breeding ground for bacteria. But, our challenges are minute compared to those in healthcare facilities.

A local hospital here in Vancouver, Washington implemented a healthy initiative that requires all medical personnel to hit the hand sanitizer when they enter a room and again when they leave it. Personally, I think patients should be required to do it as well, after all we are the sick ones!

Unfortunately, the ability to stop the spread of germs just got a little harder.

Modern Healthcare reported that the Food and Drug Administration issued a general warning to providers who use an endoscope for procedures. Why? Hold on to your backless hospital gowns…in Los Angeles seven people were infected with a superbug bacteria (antibiotic resistant) after an endoscopic procedures. To date, 135 patients have been exposed and two people have died.

The thought of that procedure is pretty frightening, but recent information reveals that the “complex design of the duodenscopes cause challenges for cleaning and high-level disinfection.” That sentence is even more disturbing. Relax, we’re going to shove a possibly dirty instrument down your throat to have a look around…oh and we might infect you with a deadly form of bacteria. It’ll be fine.

Please don’t mind my sarcasm, but it sounds like a learning opportunity.

The United States performs over 500,000 endoscopic procedures each year as a minimally invasive way to provide some imperative medical treatments. However, it stops being minimally invasive when it becomes bacterial invasive.

Education brings awareness. If physicians can do complex knee surgeries or hysterectomies laparoscopically, certainly someone can discover a sandblaster that removes bacteria from the smallest of surfaces.

What’s even more concerning is that bacteria that’s left hanging around will mutate and create micro-colonies, consisting of secondary bacteria. It is no secret that antibiotics are over prescribed, which makes this type of infection potentially a deadly one.

Drug resistant diseases are not a new thing. I was reading the description for BridgeFront’s online training program in Multidrug-resistant Pathogen and Preventing Infection, in the United States about 200 people die every day from hospital-acquired infections.

Please pass the hand sanitizer.