Can Nursing Homes Superbugs Be Washed Away?

nursing home illness

Illinois Nursing Homes Testing Antimicrobial Wash to Avert Superbug Infections 

Elderly people are an extremely vulnerable group of individuals, some with an already weakened immune system and underlying illnesses. And for those older individuals residing in nursing home facilities, many sharing community spaces housing millions of drug-resistant bacteria also known as superbugs, the risk is even worse. Superbugs are viral infections caused by bacteria that are resistant to common antibiotics and can cause severe infections that are extremely difficult to treat.

That is why some nursing homes in Illinois have started washing patients with a special chlorhexidine soap. The soap is being tested as a way to prevent antibiotic-resistant superbugs that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say infect at least 2 million people in the U.S. each year and kill 23,000 more. The trial effort is happening in 50 nursing homes in Illinois and California and being funded by $8 million federal dollars.

Common Bacteria Responsible for the Spread of Superbugs

Nursing home residents, nearly 65 percent of them, are particularly compromised to a growing number of scary antibiotic resistant superbugs, according to infectious disease department researchers at the University of California – Irvine. All bacteria can turn into a superbug strain but some of the most common include:

  • MRSA or Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus: A difficult-to-treat strain of staph infection.
  • CRE or Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae: Often called nightmare bacteria.
  • Multidrug-Resistant Acinetobacter (Acinetobacter baumannii): Develops a resistance to antibiotics more quickly than other bacteria. 
  • Clostridium Difficile (C.diff): If not treated, can be fatal.

E.Coli and Klebsiella pneumoniae bacteria can also turn into a superbug if the bacteria survives a drug treatment.

Without Systemic Change Superbugs Will Be Difficult to Control

It is difficult to pinpoint the source of a superbug spread. While 90 percent of nursing home residents are direct transfers from other healthcare facilities, drug resistant superbug sources could originate and travel from just about anywhere and remain influenced by decades of the overprescribing of antibiotics in patients of all ages.

Perhaps the new soap test will provide some insight on how superbug infection prevention in nursing homes may be possible? In the meantime, these care facilities should provide frequent and robust staff training on infection prevention techniques and management, including training on hand washing, equipment sterilization, identifying patients for isolation, as well as on the quick identification of superbug symptoms and treatment methods. In addition, with adequate staff, nurses and nurse aides are less likely to rush, and spend more time with residents to identify symptoms of infection and address bacteria spreading actions at the onset.

Nursing Home Superbug Infection Attorneys

If you suspect mistreatment of a serious infection of a nursing home resident as the cause of their illness or untimely death, please contact Levin & Perconti, one of the nation’s most recognized and respected leaders in the areas of elder abuse and nursing home negligence litigation. Our experienced team of attorneys handle cases throughout the city of Chicago, surrounding suburbs, and the entire state of Illinois, including major lawsuits involving nursing home acquired infections.

Please, contact us now for a FREE consultation at 312-332-2872 in Chicago, toll-free at 1-877-374-1417, or by completing our online case evaluation form.

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