Antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria are becoming an increasing problem in hospitals throughout the United States. Historically, antibiotics have proven to be effective for treating bacterial infections. Many bacteria strains have mutated and become immune to antibiotics, however, becoming deadly superbugs.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), superbugs infect around 2 million people each year across the United States. Roughly 23,000 people die from these infections.
In order to combat antibiotic-resistant strains, 50 hospitals and nursing homes in California and Illinois are currently testing a new method to treat superbugs. It simply involves washing patients with antimicrobial soap, which, according to research, has proven to mitigate infections. The soap contains chlorhexidine, which is commonly used in hospital intensive care units to treat serious infections.
How prevalent are superbugs?
According to Dr. John Jernigan, director of the CDC’s office on health care-acquired infection research, superbugs aren’t just confined to one hospital or nursing home. They tend to spread throughout communities and can easily transport from one health care facility to another.
Up to 15 percent of hospital patients may carry antibiotic-resistant bacteria at any given time, even if they don’t develop an infection. Among the several strains that may exist in hospitals, the most common include:
- Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)
- Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE)
- Escherichia coli or E. coli (may be classified as CRE)
- Klebsiella pneumonia (may be classified as CRE)
Research shows chlorhexidine soap was effective at treating MRSA. When used for bathing, mouthwash, and nose swabbing for up to six months, patients reduced their risk of developing MRSA by 30 percent.
Additionally, hospitals in Orange County, CA have already shown a 34 percent decrease in antibiotic-resistant strains within long-term acute care patients.
The initiative, which began in 2017 and was funded by the CDC, will run through September of 2019. In order to further develop this method, researchers in Chicago have been working closely with nursing homes and other high-risk facilities.
In addition to using chlorhexidine soap, researchers are also promoting hand-washing and adequate communication among hospital staff.
Your legal recourse in the event of a serious hospital-acquired infection
While the use of chlorhexidine soap is still in development, it may be crucial in cutting down the infection rate in hospitals.
In far too many cases, patients who are admitted to hospitals for other conditions end up becoming infected. Health care workers are required to follow strict procedures to prevent this from happening in the first place, including:
- Ensuring that medical equipment and surgical instruments are properly cleaned and sterilized
- Medical waste is properly disposed of
- Hospital rooms are thoroughly cleaned and properly ventilated
- Ensuring that all health care staff wash their hands
If you or a loved one become ill because hospital staff failed to follow these procedures, you may be eligible for a medical malpractice lawsuit. Contact Cherundolo Law Firm PLLC today to discuss your legal options.