CDC and CMS Alert – “Super-bug” CRE on the Rise

Infections with the deadly Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) are on the rise in hospitals nationwide, and are a serious threat to public health according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Due to the movement of patients throughout the healthcare system, if CRE are a problem in one facility, then typically they are a problem in other facilities in the region as well as in the home. Home health agencies may want to alert staff about CRE and steps to take if an infection is suspected.

CDC and CMS Sound Alarm on “Nightmare” Bacteria

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and CMS are asking your assistance in tackling what may be one of the most pressing patient safety threats of our time—carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE). CDC recently released a report on the presence of CRE in U.S. inpatient medical facilities, demonstrating that action is needed now to halt the spread of these deadly bacteria. We are asking for rapid action from healthcare leaders to ensure that infection prevention measures are aggressively implemented in your facilities and those around you.

Enterobacteriaceae are a family of more than 70 bacteria, including Klebsiella pneumoniae and E. coli, that normally live in the digestive system. Over time, some of these bacteria have become resistant to a group of antibiotics known as carbapenems, often referred to as last-resort antibiotics. During the last decade, CDC has tracked one type of CRE from a single healthcare facility to facilities in at least 42 states. In some healthcare facilities, these bacteria already pose a routine threat to patients.

CDC has released a concise, practical CRE prevention toolkit with recommendations for controlling CRE transmission in hospitals, long-term acute care facilities, nursing homes, and health departments. Key recommendations follow CDC’s “Detect and Protect” strategy, including:

  • Enforcing use of infection control precautions (standard and contact precautions).
  • Grouping patients with CRE together.
  • Dedicating rooms, staff, and equipment to the care of patients with CRE whenever possible.
  • Having facilities alert each other when patients with CRE transfer back and forth.
  • Asking patients whether they have recently received care somewhere else (including another country).
  • Using antibiotics wisely.

When fully implemented, CDC recommendations have been proven to work. Medical facilities in several states have reduced CRE infection rates by following CDC’s prevention guidelines.

The United States is at a critical point in our ability to stop the spread of CRE. If we do not act quickly, we will miss our window of opportunity and CRE could become widespread across the country.

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