Archive for Friday, March 8, 2013

Lawrence Memorial Hospital, KU Med prepared for ‘nightmare bacteria,’ officials say

March 8, 2013


Officials at area hospitals say they’ve seen very few infections from “nightmare bacteria” that prompted national warnings earlier this week, and they’re doing everything they can to keep it that way.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week issued a warning about a class of superbug infecting patients in hospitals, long-term care facilities and nursing homes across the nation. Because these bacteria can withstand even the strongest type of antibiotics, called carbapenems, they’ve earned the name carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, or CRE.

The germs are still rare, the CDC reported, but they can kill about half of patients who develop a severe infection. Because of that, the CDC is warning hospitals to do everything they can to keep the superbug from becoming more common.

At Lawrence Memorial Hospital, no patients have been infected with CRE, said infection preventionist Humbelina Harper. But bacteria resistant to antibiotics already present a constant struggle for the hospital, Harper said, and LMH is well-prepared.

“We’re ready for them,” Harper said.

At Kansas University Hospital in Kansas City, Kan., officials have detected a handful of infections from carbapenem-resistant bacteria in the past year — fewer than 10, said Rebecca Horvat, a clinical microbiologist for the KU Medical Center who assists the hospital in detecting infections. None of the infected patients died, Horvat said.

Both hospitals have procedures in place to detect these bugs and isolate any patient found to have an infection. The hospitals always emphasize cleanliness and hand hygiene.

Those are all recommendations from the CDC. Another is to be careful with the use of antibiotics. If they’re not given to patients in a specific, targeted manner, or if patients don’t take them correctly, it can open a window for more bugs to develop a resistance.

“They’re just adapting and learning how to deal with the mechanisms we’ve created to kill them,” Harper said.

Because of that, LMH has a committee with representatives from different departments to make sure antibiotics are being used the right way.

CRE infections are not nearly as common as those from MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, another antibiotic-resistant bug, Horvat said. Hospital officials are working to keep it that way.

“We want to work on it now and make sure it doesn’t become a big problem,” Horvat said.

Ever since antibiotics were developed, she said, hospitals have battled to outrace the bacteria that have evolved to resist them. “This is a major concern,” Horvat said. “This is something we’ve been struggling with, as you know, for years.”

Horvat and Harper both said the general public, too, should be vigilant about hand-washing, refrain from taking antibiotics when it’s not needed and follow directions when they are needed.


Bob Forer 5 years, 1 month ago

Last week's article noting that LMH is among the top hundred hospital's for cities the size of Lawrence is somewhat reassuring. We have some sharp folks at LMH. When they say they are prepared for this bacteria, I have faith in those words. Sounds frightening, though.

George_Braziller 5 years, 1 month ago

Saying they're prepared doesn't mean they are. Three times I was stung by an insect and ended up with a staph infection in my arm. One took 20 days of antibiotics to knock out, third time it was a shot of Rocephin in my ass and ten additional days of antibiotics. When I asked the doctor what I could do to avoid it again the answer was stay inside the house or spray the yard with insecticide. LMH sucks.

tena buse 5 years, 1 month ago

sounds like the advice was spot on. what did you want him to tell you? also sometimes staph infections come from the skin. it is called staph epidermis. don't blame the hospital for giving you a common sense answer. of course,perhaps you don't understand common sense.

George_Braziller 5 years, 1 month ago

What I was wanting to know was if I knew I had been stung what should I do to make sure it didn't happen again. Wash it with soap? Rinse it with alcohol? Rinse it with peroxide? Use an anti-bacterial cream? She looked at me with clueless eyes and told me to just not to get stung again.

Wow, THAT was a lot of help.

riverdrifter 5 years, 1 month ago

"Three times I was stung by an insect and ended up with a staph infection in my arm." I've been stung many times by various insects and never have gotten a staph infection. Sounds like you are blaming LMH for an immune problem that is inherently yours, not theirs.

George_Braziller 5 years, 1 month ago

An immune problem? I don't think so. A staph infection has nothing to do with the immune system. and when you see lines tracing up your arm you know it's serious. I'm not an idiot. My mother was an OR nurse and an RN for more than 50 years so I do have some basic medical knowledge which is why I went to the doctor after I was stung by yellow jackets.

Bob Forer 5 years, 1 month ago

It could. With a strong immune system, some infections are never able to take hold.

TheEleventhStephanie 5 years, 1 month ago

So she misunderstood. You didn't bother to clarify your question? Some people...

George_Braziller 5 years, 1 month ago

I think asking three times should have been enough. She just sat there and stared at me and then left the exam room and never came back.

After 20 minutes I finally had to go into the hall to find a nurse to see if there was any reason I was still sitting there. Nope.

It was bizarre.

bearded_gnome 5 years, 1 month ago

seems about every other year or so we have an infectious disease scare: swine flu, SARS, then going back was MRSA, etc.

they are right in the article to cite the effect of human behavior on the selection of bacteria through our misuse of antibiotics. no mention in the article though of the impact of antibiotics in our human food chain such as milk, meats, etc.

in effect, when you kill off the not-so-baddies with the halfwayapplication of antibiotics, you select for the stronger bacteria to grow in us humans.

while the LMH committee is right to address this, I'm afraid it's like taking a garden hose to fight a five alarm fire at a high rise building.

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