Calls for Superbug Reporting Rules Increase Amid Outbreaks
Recent outbreaks of an antibiotic-resistant superbug in California are prompting calls for mandatory national reporting requirements for the disease, the Los Angeles Times reports (Terhune, Los Angeles Times, 3/6).
Background on Outbreaks
In February, UCLA's Ronald Reagan Medical Center began notifying 179 patients who may have been exposed to Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, or CRE, from contaminated medical endoscopes.
Following the announcement of the superbug, FDA issued a warning about medical endoscopes, stating that the device's design might make it difficult to "clean, disinfect and sterilize reusable devices." However, the agency said it is not safe for hospitals to stop using the devices because there are no viable alternatives (California Healthline, 2/24).
Meanwhile, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles on Wednesday reported that four patients had been infected with CRE and up to 67 more might have been exposed after being treated with the same type of scope.
Last week, 10 House lawmakers in a letter to FDA asked the agency to respond to several questions about the outbreak of the superbug bacteria, including how long officials had known about the risks of endoscopes linked to the outbreak (California Healthline, 3/6).
Details of Call for Reporting Requirements
In 2013, CDC labeled CRE as an urgent health threat, according to the Times. However, there are no national reporting requirements for CRE infections, and just 20 states -- not including California -- have implemented such requirements.
The recent outbreaks in California and elsewhere have prompted lawmakers and other stakeholders to call for mandatory reporting of CRE infections.
Peter Mendel, a researcher and expert on infection reporting at Santa Monica-based Rand Corporation, said, "It's important to know what's out there, because these are serious infections. You shouldn't wait until there's an outbreak."
Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) has announced plans to introduce a bill will aim to require hospitals to report CRE cases to CDC.
Lieu said, "I don't see how we can combat superbugs if the CDC doesn't even know the full scope of the problem," adding, "We should have uniform national reporting for all hospitals."
A CDC spokesperson said such requirements generally are made at the state level, adding, "[U]ltimately, the decision should be based on what makes sense for prevention in a particular state."
Meanwhile, experts say there are other methods for controlling the infection. For instance, a state-run registry of patients with CRE in Illinois helps providers determine when a patient requires isolation or other precautions.
Health officials also could periodically examine hospital lab data for CRE cases, according to the Times (Los Angeles Times, 3/6).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.