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CDC Reports 37,000 Infection-related Deaths over Five Years May Have Been Preventable

CDC reports thousands unnecessarily killed by hospital-acquired infectionThe U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a report concluding that 37,000 U.S. deaths from antibiotic resistant germs and an intestinal bug could have been prevented. The CDC says that the deaths, occurring over a five year period, could have been reduced through closer coordination between healthcare officials and public health departments.

Each year, antibiotic-resistant germs such as carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteria (CRE) and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), cause more than 2 million illnesses and 23,000 deaths in US hospitals and nursing homes. These “superbugs typically arise when antibiotics are overprescribed,” according to an article in Reuters. The report goes on to state that the intestinal bug known as C. difficile is responsible for 500,000 illnesses and 15,000 deaths annually on its own. Both antibiotic resistant bacteria and C. difficile are spread inside and between healthcare facilities when adequate control measures are not taken.

The CDC estimated that 619,000 infections and 37,000 deaths can be avoided if proper precautionary and response measures are used by healthcare providers. To reduce the risk of outbreak and infection, the CDC recommends that healthcare facilities follow procedures such as cleaning rooms with bleach before and after patient use, adequate washing of hands, communicating updated patient information to hospitals receiving transferred patients, and administering diagnostic tests that could be used to determine whether asymptomatic patients may be carriers during an outbreak. The CDC states that “health care facilities and health departments should agree to implement shared infection control actions,” and that “facilities that work alone cannot adequately protect their patients.”

Check the CDC’s website for information on how to protect yourself and your family from healthcare-associated infections. The information may save your life should you become a hospital patient.