Quality of care

Lethal germ affecting short-stay hospitals, long-term care facilities

A lethal germ found in short-stay hospitals and long-term care facilities called carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) has been overpowering antibiotics and could possibly be the beginning of the end of antibiotics, according to the CDC.

CRE affects people who are in or who recently had inpatient medical care, and when someone gets a serious infection from it, there are very few or no antibiotics to cure the issue. CRE can also spread its antibiotic-fighting weapons to other bacteria, potentially creating additional untreatable bacteria. Up to half of patients who become infected will die, says the CDC, which lists some important facts about the germ:

  • About 4% of US short-stay hospitals had at least one patient with a serious CRE infection during the first half of 2012. About 18% of long-term acute care hospitals had one. This totals almost 200 facilities.
  • One type of CRE has been reported in medical facilities in 42 states.
  • The most common type of CRE is also rising rapidly – there has been a seven-fold increase in its presence during the last 10 years.

The CDC has mapped out specific guidelines that, when followed, can halt CRE infections before they become widespread in facilities and before they spread to otherwise people. In addition, the CDC has issued a comprehensive CRE Prevention Toolkit, which provides guidelines for physicians and nurses, hospitals, long-term care hospitals, nursing homes, and health departments.