Last week hospital leaders got a new reason to worry about the safety of their patients and staff, when researchers reported that a drug-resistant superbug gene, known as mcr-1, had appeared in the United States for the first time. Healthcare professionals have known for some time this would likely come to pass, but now that it’s a reality, what steps can you take to maintain superior patient care and ensure the safety of your patients and hospital staff? Here are 3 actions you can take to help protect your hospital staff and patients from the latest superbug:
- Inform your staff: Many on your hospital staff are busy saving lives, and might not be aware of the most current medical news out there. To that end, knowledge is power. Researchers recently discovered the mcr-1 gene, which causes resistance to the antibiotic colistin, in a urine sample of a Pennsylvania woman with an e-coli infection. Fortunately, the woman’s case was treatable with other last-resort antibiotics. The gene is easily transferable between species of bacteria due to its location on the bacteria’s DNA. The ability to share its colistin-resistant trait to other bacterium poses the risk of creating pan-resistant bacteria.
- Review your policies with your staff: It’s important to review your hospital’s basic infection control policies and PPE guidelines. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has an excellent example here. Plan refresher training courses if necessary to remind your staff, and create a preparedness checklist should one of your patients contract an infection with the superbug mcr-1 gene. Continue to educate yourself and your staff on any updates regarding drug-resistant bacteria.
- Continue to stay proactive: It’s no secret that drug-resistant strains of bacteria have been found before on medical equipment and sometimes healthcare workers themselves. Over the years, procedures and policies have been enacted to prevent such cases from happening again. However, it should be noted that patients could also be carriers of a superbug. In a recent University of Michigan study, 25 percent of hospital patients tested had some sort of drug-resistant germ on their hands when they were discharged from the hospital.
It is the ultimate goal of healthcare workers to protect their patients. With these basic steps, your hospital staff will have the resources to prevent the spread of drug-resistant superbugs, and as a result save more patients’ lives. To read more about the discovery of the mcr-1 gene, please click here.
As a healthcare professional, what are your thoughts on the latest news regarding the mcr-1 gene?