CDC: Health Care Coordination Can Reduce Spread of Infections
U.S. health care facilities should use a coordinated approach to control antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which could help to prevent more than 500,000 potentially deadly infections over the next five years, according to a CDC report released Tuesday, the Washington Post reports.
For the report, CDC researchers examined the prevalence of four of the most-deadly pathogens:
- Clostridium difficile, commonly known as C. diff;
- Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, or CRE;
- Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, commonly known as MRSA; and
- Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
According to CDC, all of the pathogens are resistant to antibiotics and can cause serious infections. The bacteria typically are spread throughout health care facilities, including hospitals. In addition, MRSA is reportedly spreading throughout other facilities such as day cares, schools and other public places (Sun, Washington Post, 8/4).
To gauge how well coordinated efforts could work to control the pathogens, CDC studied regions where hospitals and nursing homes already are sharing information about infected patients, as well as regions where such information is not shared. CDC then assessed whether infection rates would continue as they were if health care facilities:
- Increased efforts to combat the pathogens on their own;
- Worked together to combat the infections; and
- Worked together in tandem with public health authorities (Rau, Kaiser Health News, 8/4).
According to CDC, an estimated 648,000 people each year develop hospital-acquired infections, which cause about 75,000 deaths. According to the data, C. diff infects about 290,000 U.S. hospital patients annually and kills at least 27,000 of them (Consumer Reports/Washington Post, 8/3).
Further, antibiotic-resistant bacteria in general are responsible for more than two million illnesses in the U.S. annually, which result in at least 23,000 deaths each year (Washington Post, 8/4).
According to the report, facility-acquired infections stemming from just three of the four pathogens could increase by as much as 10% over five years, to about 340,000 annually, if further measures are not taken to curb their spread.
CDC Calls for Coordinated Strategy
CDC suggested that if facilities work together on a regional basis, coordinated by a central public health authority, they could drastically improve detection of such infections and potentially save tens of thousands of lives. According to the report, such efforts could:
- Prevent 619,000 facility-acquired infections and 37,000 deaths during a five-year period; and
- Reduce CRE infection rates by as much as 74% in some instances.
According to CDC, such an effort would rely on distributing information about facility-acquired infections, including notifying facilities when a patient carrying antibiotic-resistant bacteria is being transferred. Under such a model, the central public health authority would collect information from each facility and disseminate the data to other regional health care institutions (Washington Post, 8/4). The report noted, "Coordinated prevention approaches led by public health agencies, when coupled with intensified facility-based prevention programs, have the potential to more completely address the emergence and dissemination of these organisms" (Kaiser Health News, 8/4).
CDC estimated the efforts would save the health care industry almost $8 billion in treatment costs (Washington Post, 8/4).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.