With a painstaking effort, a set of hospitals in Chicago has managed to lower by half the amount of infections caused by a deadly form of superbug. Health officials in the U.S. now want that campaign to spread nationwide.
On Friday, the White House told the United States Center for Disease Control to slash the numbers of infections from bacteria that is antibiotic-resistant by 2020 as part of its plan to prevent deaths of patients and to curb the overuse of antibiotics prescribed to humans as well as animals.
The CDC has pointed to the success enjoyed in Chicago, one of five CDC funded programs in the nation that coordinate research amongst officials in public health and local scientists.
This program has involved testing patients for CRE infections when admitted and again after two weeks. Patients who then develop CRE are isolated in their own room or a ward that has other patients who are CRE-infected.
Healthcare workers had to wear protective gowns during the time they tended to the patients, using some of the same procedures used when treating patients that have Ebola. All the infected patients were then bathed in an antiseptic commonly used in hospitals known as chlorhexidine gluconate.
When the three years concluded, CRE infections were lower by 50%. The doctors said the protocol might not be able to be carried out by average hospitals in the U.S., but shows how a strategy that is focused can help goals to be met laid out by the CDC.
The World Health Organizations declared that antibiotic resistance is a global emergency. In the U.S. it causes over 2 million serious infections and as many as 23,000 deaths annually, according to estimates done by the CDC that some in healthcare consider being too conservative.
Many of the infections take place in hospitals and the CDC believes that at any time, one in 20 patients in hospitals had an infection that results from medical treatment.