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.


toe 1 year, 1 month ago

Hospitals are a major arm of the government now. That is why the constant articles on health matters and the charm offensive to prepare the citizens to be nice to the new government workers. Good luck getting health care if they discover your voter registration card from the wrong party. I recommend switching to Democrat, get a card, then switch back to get a new one. Then show the hospital your demcard. "Accidentally" drop it on the admission desk when you whip out your government insurance card. That should do the trick. The game is on.


bearded_gnome 1 year, 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.


mikekt 1 year, 1 month ago

Don't know if you are using the words bite & sting / stung,.....interchangeably ?

Texas A&Ms' national venom research center uses a device called a Sawyer Extractor, as part of their field research first aid kit.

The Sawyer Extractor looks like a big yellow syringe that comes in a yellow plastic kit box . It creates a suction thru flexible cupped ends ( that can be changed from largest to smallest size ) when the plunger is pushed into the unit, as its' suction end is placed over the bite .

It sucks out the venom of an insect bite better ( as I understand it ) than it does a snake bite because snakes have large fangs that go deeper in, accessing circulating blood, while insects have small fangs, that go shallow under the skin ..

It is such a "Dangerous Medical Device".............that they sell them at Walmart !!!!..... in the camping section of the store, for around $15 bucks a piece, maybe less !!!I

Discovered it while researching spider bites a few days after being bitten by a brown recluse spider !

I went thru 3 courses of oral antibiotics, used 3 in 1 OTC topical antibiotic and a prescription topical antibiotic, as well .

I am not a doctor but i keep one of those venom extractors around because I would just as soon be able to suck an insects poisonous venom ( out with a little of my blood ) than go thru weeks of antibiotic therapy that does a number on me all of it's own,...and infectious pain,...... if I can !

Head 'em off at the pass, my motto, ......if I get the chance to .

Truthfully, I don't think that Sawyer ever called their extractor as being anything more than a first aid device .

It does come with instructions for its' use in different bite, sting, etc.....situations. If you bye one, the instructions .

If you ( the reader ) saw me say above, that you should not seek medical attention for a serious bite........then you are seeing things that aren't here on this page .

As cheep advise, if I were bitten by an insect, four legged animal or human,... and a red painful area appeared, i would draw a circle around the area with a reasonably permanent ink pen & definitely seek medical attention, if the red spot enlarges beyond it's original boundaries, as I had marked that's possibly one of the signs of a spreading infection .


TheEleventhStephanie 1 year, 1 month ago

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


George_Braziller 1 year, 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.


Bob Forer 1 year, 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.


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