Skip to content

Skin Problems & Treatments Health Center

New Guidelines on Hospital Infections

CDC Calls on Hospitals, Others to Work Harder to Stop Drug-Resistant Infections
Font Size
A
A
A
By
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Oct. 19, 2006 -- Federal officials today released new guidelines urging U.S. health care facilities to step up efforts to control drug-resistant infections.

The recommendations come amid rising rates of in-hospital infections with bacteria resistant to standard antibiotics.

Hospitals, nursing homes, and other facilities have known for years that health workers often spread the superbugs between patients on their hands and medical equipment.

About 5% to 10% of patients admitted to hospitals acquire one or more infections during their stay.

Experts warn that resistant bacteria force doctors to use stronger -- sometimes more toxic --antibiotics to quell infections.

Rates of resistance to the antibiotic methicillin rose from just 2% of common Staphylococcus aureus bacteria in 1972 to 63% in 2004, according to the CDC, which issued the guidelines.

The guidelines urge hospitals and other facilities to prioritize control efforts and to do more to monitor infection rates among patients.

"What we're asking today is simple but not easily achieved," says CDC official John Jernigan.

Infectious disease experts blame overprescribing of antibiotics as the major cause of drug- resistant infections.

Antibiotics are often given preventatively or when doctors suspect an infection.

But the drugs are useless against viral illnesses like fluflu, and overuse breeds stronger and stronger generations of potentially dangerous bacteria.

The CDC guidelines call on hospitals to educate doctors and nurses to use antibiotics conservatively.

Other suggestions are surprisingly basic. Doctors, nurses, and orderlies should be trained to wash their hands every time they enter a patient's room to minimize the risk of transmitting pathogens from other patients, they state.

But experts warn that modifying health practices and policies in thousands of U.S. health care facilities requires a cultural shift.

Achieving the Basics

Will Sawyer, MD, a family physician in Cincinnati says overworked hospitals and nursing homes have a hard time observing basic hand-washing protocols requiring them to scrub up every time they enter a patient's room.

"It's too complicated; it's chaos," says Sawyer, a hand-washing advocate.

He urges programs to make health workers are acutely aware of everyday behavior that can turn them into carriers and transmitters of drug-resistant bacteria. "Am I an eye-rubber, nose-picker, or thumb-licker?" he says.

Today on WebMD

chafing
Pictures and symptoms of the red, scaly rash.
woman with dyed dark hair
What it says about your health.
 
woman with cleaning products
Top causes of the itch that rashes.
atopic dermatitus
Identify and treat common skin problems.
 
itchy skin
Article
shingles rash on skin
Article
 
woman with skin tag
Quiz
Woman washing face
Video
 

Itching for Relief?

Get Help With the

Loading ...

Sending your email...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

Thanks!

Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

woman washing her hair in sink
Video
close up of womans bare neck
Tools
 
Feet
Slideshow
woman with face cream
Quiz