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According to the findings of a new research, very few nursing homes follow the recommended isolation precautions for residents with multi-drug resistant infections, which may place other nursing home residents at  risk of the serious and potentially  life-threatening “superbug” infections.

About 2 million people get sick every year with antibiotic-resistant infections in  the U.S. and about  23,000 die.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says one in 25 U.S. hospital patients has caught an infection while in the hospital.

The study was published last month in The Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.  The researchers at the Columbia University School of Nursing found that isolation procedures were used on only about 13% of all nursing home infection  cases involving drug-resistant  strains.  The study involved nearly 200,000 nursing home residents with multidrug-resistant organism (MDRO) infections between  October 2010 and December 2013.

The researchers determined “Isolation was infrequently used, and the proportion  of isolated  MDRO infections varied  between  facilities. Further research is  needed to determine  whether and when  isolation should be used to best decrease  risk  of MDRO transmission and improve quality of care.”

MRSA infections, which are resistant to treatment by penicillin-based antibiotics,  have accounted for more  than 60% of hospital staph infections  in  recent  years.  The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that about 126,000 hospital MRSA infections occur each year, resulting in about 5,000 deaths.  However, some researchers suggest that the number of deaths from MRSA in the  U.S. is closer to 20,000 annually.

Isolation precautions can include placing nursing home residents in private rooms, or having them wear protective clothing.  These steps are designed to prevent the spread of infections by “superbugs” which can be particularly dangerous for the elderly, as well as those with compromised immune systems.


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