C.D.C. issues plan to resist 'superbugs'

Aug 06, 2015, 3:22 AM EDT
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A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that the U.S. can save 37,000 lives and prevent 619,000 new infections if community health departments and health care facilities form better organization and practices to quickly identify and address emerging outbreaks of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. CBS writes:

An immediate, focused effort to halt the spread of antibiotic-resistant germs could save tens of thousands of lives and prevent hundreds of thousands of new infections over the next five years, a new government report suggests.
As many as 37,000 lives could be saved, and 619,000 new infections prevented, if community health departments and health care facilities form tight support networks to quickly identify and address emerging outbreaks of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, said report author Dr. John Jernigan.
He directs the Office of HAI (Health care-Associated Infections) Prevention Research and Evaluation at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"When health care facilities and health departments in a community work together to share information about resistance, and then use that information to guide and target prevention efforts, then we would expect to see up to 70 percent fewer patients affected by drug-resistant germs," Jernigan explained.
Their master plan to make all this happen? Force hospitals, healthcare facilities, and public health departments to become more organized and coordinated.
While this doesn't sound like it'll be cheap, it will not only save lives, but also save the US an estimated $7.7 billion dollars in direct medical costs during that time span.
Because outbreaks move across and between healthcare facilities like hospitals and nursing homes, CDC director Tom Frieden said in a briefing on August 4 that no one facility can stop the spread of disease: "If one facility is doing something and the other isn't, that's not good enough."
Antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria and C. difficile — a particularly nasty bug that attacks the lining of the intestines — frequently spread when hospitals or healthcare facilities transfer patients from one place to another.
"We need to think in terms of whole communities," Frieden said in the briefing. "No one should get C. diff or resistant bacteria just because they're in a healthcare setting."

The Washington Post writes:

Overall, antibiotic-resistant germs cause more than 2 million illnesses and at least 23,000 deaths each year in the United States.

Combating antibiotic-resistant bacteria is a major focus for the White House, which has asked Congress for about $130 million for the CDC to work with health-care facilities in all 50 states to detect and prevent antibiotic-resistant germs and C. diff infections.