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Deerfield Beach Nursing Homes at Risk for “Nightmare” Bacteria

Nursing homes in Florida and throughout the country are highly vulnerable to what federal officials say is the rapid spread of “nightmare bacteria.”

Our Deerfield Beach nursing home negligence lawyers understand that these strains – including the so-called “superbug” that hit the National Institutes of Health a couple years ago – are resistant to all forms of antibiotics. That includes antibiotics of last resort. They are also deadly. That means by the time patients catch it, there may be little that health care officials can do to treat it.

The bacteria are known as Carbapanem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae, or CRE. Survival rates for those who are infected are abysmal. About half of all those who catch the bacteria will die, primarily of bloodstream infections.

Even more troubling, this strain has the ability to transfer its antibiotic resistance to other strains, which means many other kinds of seemingly innocuous bacteria could become untreatable too.

The example given by the CDC was regarding a form of CRE known as Klebsiella. This bacteria has been shown in labs to have the ability to transfer antibiotic resistance to E. coli. If this were to happen in a real-world setting, the results would be devastating.

And it appears to be already happening. The CDC reports that in the last decade, the percentage of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics as a result of CRE transfers has nearly quadrupled, from 1.2 percent in 2001 to 4.2 percent in 2011.

Throughout the first half of last year, nearly 200 nursing homes and hospitals treated at least one individual for an infection of this nature. There were no immediate figures to indicate how many of those patients died.

CRE are a family of about 70 or so bacteria, which includes E. coli. These are bacteria that would normally reside in our digestive system. But over time, they have developed a virile resistance carbapenem antibiotics. These are powerful, “last-resort” drugs.

In the last 10 years, the CDC was able to show how a single case at a one health care facility spread to hundreds of locations in 42 states. Still, there are only a handful of states that require CRE infections to be reported to state health departments. Florida isn’t one of them.

The 2011 outbreak in NIH sickened nearly 20 people, killing a dozen.

Almost all CRE infections so far reported have involved patients who were either in a nursing home or whose immune systems were weakened by serious conditions like cancer. Often, patients were on some kind of treatment, like ventilators or catheters, that allowed ample opportunity for infection.

But the disease was also frequently spread from the hands of health care professionals.

This means that that nursing home facilities have a clear and important responsibility to use better practices and proper precautions to ward off further infections. Part of that means only prescribing antibiotics when it’s absolutely necessary, so that more strains don’t have an opportunity to build up a higher wall of resistance. It also involves ensuring proper cleansing of individuals, equipment and facilities.

Freeman, Mallard, Sharp & Gonzalez — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights.

Additional Resources:
CDC: ‘Nightmare bacteria’ spreading, March 7, 2013, By William Hudson, CNN

More Blog Entries:
Laizure v. Avante at Leesburg – Forcing Victims of Nursing Home Negligence to Arbitrate, March 9, 2013, Deerfield Beach Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Blog

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