7/13/10

Deadly, drug resistant hospital superbug that lives on surfaces for months. Is Ontario opening the door?

Medscape reports today that 'Acinetobacter baumannii' is becoming increasingly prevalent in healthcare facilities.  This is yet another hard to treat hospital acquired infection, joining C. Difficile, MRSA, VRE,  SARS, etc. etc. etc.

The A.baumannii infection is drug-resistant and particularly problematic for hospitals. Not only can the bacteria survive for months on wet and dry surfaces, but the mortality from the infection is high — ranging from 8% to as high as 42% for patients in intensive care units (ICUs).

Dr. Louis B. Rice, a U.S.  infectious-disease specialist told the New York Times that "In many respects it's far worse than MRSA...There are strains out there, and they are becoming more and more common, that are resistant to virtually every antibiotic we have." The Times adds: "The bacteria, classified as Gram-negative because of their reaction to the so-called Gram stain test, can cause severe pneumonia and infections of the urinary tract, bloodstream and other parts of the body. Their cell structure makes them more difficult to attack with antibiotics than Gram-positive organisms like MRSA."

The Medscape report discusses a successful attempt to deal with an outbreak of the infection at a major hospital, with  intensive cleaning playing a key role.  Also important was the hospital staff working as a team: "What was most important was our collaborative team approach — we had regular meetings with hospital staff, including people in labs, environmental services, and the physical plant department."

But creating a team is much more difficult if housekeeping, environmental services, or physical plant services  are contracted out.

Yet in Ontario hospitals today, we see just the opposite.  Hospital housekeeping is being cut-back and contracted out. 

How does that help?

dallan@cupe.ca

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