Super-Bugs: How Hospitals May Be Hastening A Long-Feared Problem

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Many Americans have heard terrifying rumors of antibiotic-resistant “super bugs” – bacterial infections that can survive our strongest medicines. As USA Today is reporting this week, super bugs are a very real threat in American hospitals.

USA Today’s investigation reports that thousands of super bug cases have occurred in the last few years, including one particularly large outbreak at a research hospital in which seven people died.

One concerning conclusion from its study may be that hospitals are helping the bug spread. By failing to screen patients and train or equip their employees to respond appropriately to super bug symptoms, hospitals and other medical centers might be endangering numerous other patients. Depending on future developments, this could eventually lead to medical malpractice arguments.

Since the most powerful antibiotics do not work on the super bug, the medical profession’s chief goal at the moment is to contain its spread to new patients and from hospitals to other facilities. Currently, not enough staff members know how to handle the super bug. For example, an infected patient who transfers from a hospital into a nursing home could easily infect other vulnerable residents – and nursing home staff might have no idea how to respond to prevent further infections.

Doctors have no hope for a cure in the near future and this means that an effective strategy to control the spread of super bugs has to start with how medical professionals respond to individual infections.

Source: USA TODAY, “Deadly ‘superbugs’ invade U.S. health care facilities,” Frank Pompa, Nov. 29, 2012

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