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Avoiding Superbug Infections at the Hospital or Convalescent Center

Hospitals and convalescent centers are for healing and rehabilitation, but they can also be breeding grounds for drug resistant bacteria, or superbugs, such as MRSA, CRE, and VRE.

“These bacteria aren’t really new; it’s just that we’re seeing more and more of them. It’s not only in hospitals but in the community at large,” says Elizabeth Clark, R.N., Torrance Memorial’s Director of Infection Control.

Why Superbugs are So Contagious

MRSA is the most common drug
resistant organism, Clark says. It is transmitted through contact and has been found in hospitals and convalescent centers, in gyms and even in the military.

“Misuse of antibiotics is really to blame,” says Clark. “These organisms adapt and are no longer susceptible to our antibiotics. Now doctors are limited on the drugs they can use. They try older drugs, but even if an antibiotic can clear the acute infection, the bacteria have usually colonized in other parts of
the body.”

Drug resistant bacteria can infect a wound, a surgical site, even your bloodstream. They can colonize in the GI tract, in the throat and on the skin.

“These infections can be deadly,” says Clark. “A lot is going to depend on your own immune response.”

CBS news recently reported that there were 1.7 million infections of drug resistant bacteria reported in U.S. hospitals alone, and 99,000 deaths. That’s why Clark recommends avoiding infection all together.

Your Best Protection

“It’s really simplistic, but hand washing is so critical,” says Clark. “If you’re in the hospital and you don’t see a health professional washing or sanitizing his or her hands speak up. It’s okay to ask.”

Same goes for clean hospital equipment. “There are disinfectant wipes in the room. You can observe if routine hospital equipment such as a thermometer or blood pressure gauge was cleaned or you can ask directly,” says Clark. “You can also ask if it’s necessary to have devices such as urinary catheters put in.”

Finally, Clark says it’s important to get into the best condition possible before you enter the hospital for surgery or a procedure. Make sure you eat right, get ample rest and exercise. The healthier your immune system, the less likely you’ll be infected with a drug resistant bacteria.

Tips to Avoid Infection

• Use antibiotics only when necessary.

• Wash or sanitize hands regularly.

• Ensure your health professionals wash or sanitize their hands.

• Avoid touching your face unless your hands are clean.

• Ask if routine hospital equipment has been cleaned.

• Get into the best condition you can before hospitalization.

Categories: Healthy Living

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