CRE ‘Superbug’ Infects UCLA Patients
Seven patients at a California-based hospital have been infected with a drug-resistant 'superbug,' and 179 people were exposed to it.
About the CRE 'Superbug' Outbreak
According to the Huffington Post, nearly 180 patients at UCLA's Ronald Reagan Medical Center may have been exposed to potentially lethal bacteria from tainted medical scopes, and two deaths have already been linked to the outbreak.
The two people who passed away are among seven patients that UCLA discovered were infected by the drug-resistant superbug known as CRE. The number of people infected may increase as more patients get tested. The outbreak is the latest in a string of similar incidents across the country
CRE, which stands for carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, are a family of germs that are difficult to treat because they have high levels of resistance to antibiotics. Healthy people usually do not succumb to CRE infections. It usually affects patients in hospitals, nursing homes, and other healthcare settings.
CRE is considered to be a hospital-acquired infection because it normally spreads on contaminated intravenous lines, catheters and other devices. A contaminated endoscope was to blame for the UCLA outbreak. An endoscope is a long tube with a camera attached to the end that's used to help doctors take a look at the inside of the digestive tract.
Even before this incident, UCLA has struggled with issues of patient safety before in the past. A prominent healthcare quality organization gave the Ronald Reagan Medical Center a failing grade on patient safety back in 2012.
Possible Solutions on How to Prevent Future Outbreaks
These outbreaks are raising serious questions as to whether hospitals, medical-device companies and regulators are doing enough to ensure patient safety.
Officials at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that they were working with the L.A. County Department of Public Health in its investigation of the UCLA infections. Hospitals and patients are being encouraged to take better precautions with hand-washing and disinfecting of hospital rooms and medical equipment.
Patients infected with CRE should be placed in solitary rooms with no other people around. The CDC also urges patients and medical professionals to avoid unnecessary prescriptions and use of antibiotics. The FDA has been pressured to issue guidelines for hospitals on how best to sanitize scopes and other equipment, and devise a way to better track infections in the future.
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