'Superbug' outbreaks thrust SNF residents into spotlight

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Researchers at Johns Hopkins Hospital recently set off warning sirens for long-term care providers when they announced that patients who were transferred from nursing homes and other long-term care facilities were many times more likely to carry "superbugs" than other hospital patients.


Nursing home transfers were 12 times more likely to carry antibiotic-resistant bacterium Acinetobacter, and 22 times more likely to carry the infection if the resident used a wheelchair or was largely bedridden.
As a result, the Baltimore hospital will soon begin testing transfers from nursing homes for Acinetobacter. Such transferring residents will be treated as potential carriers unless the tests are negative, Johns Hopkins officials said.
Testing can isolate such individuals and allow safeguards to be tailored to high-risk patient populations in the community, according to Trish Perl, M.D., study author and hospital epidemiologist
In a related note, Illinois could soon become the first state to require hospitals to aggressively test for and control the spread of "superbugs" in hospital patients.
A bill now moving through the Illinois legislature would mandate that hospitals test for MRSA in all intensive care and "at-risk" patients. The category includes nursing home transfers. Also under the bill, hospitals would be required to take certain measures to prevent transmission of the potentially deadly germs. These include isolating patients with MRSA and adhering to strict hand-washing practices. Moreover, anyone entering the patients' room would have to wear a sterilized gown, gloves and masks.