Tag Archives: MRSA

Are We Running Out Of Antibiotics?

Deadly super bugs are starting to become such a big problem that nearly everyone has heard mention of this major concern.  But, what can we do about it?  Could we have reached the end of the era of antibiotics?  What can we do to fight back against these super bugs?  Dr. Arjun Srinivasan from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spoke with Frontline about the rising problem of superbugs and the options that we have left to combat them.

The following interview is lengthy but I guarantee it is one everyone must read in order to better understand the severity of what is happening. An issue like this is going to take more than doctors and drug companies to solve. Read this article and watch this video then forward it on to help increase action at the local level to combat this problem.

READ THE ARTICLE        or     WATCH THE VIDEO

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September 13, 2013

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Often times we get stuck on the bad things happening. The evening news is all stories about people doing things they shouldn’t. We call our friends and vent to them about what went wrong in their day. Why is it that the ones who act up are the ones who get suspended and get to stay home from school like everyone else wishes they could?

But what happens to those that do things right? The teacher’s pets, the constant advocates, the heros.

That’s where the Top 5 #InfectionPreventionSuccess Stories come into play. These organizations are doing things right, doing innovative things that go above and beyond normal expectations.

1.) MRSA incidence in dialysis patients declining

2.) Founder of the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths.

3.) American technology effective for Mers-CoV prevention

4.) CleanLink releases list of infection prevention practices that work!

5.) Achieving Reduced Infection Rates via Hand Hygiene Compliance

How about a round of applause and a little attention to those that deserve it. Keep up the good work!

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Filed under Daily Blog Posts, Gimme Five Friday, Healthcare Acquired Infections, Uncategorized

September 12, 2013

Hey NFL Physicians Society, WAKE UP!

MRSA Infections in the NFL

MRSA Infections in the NFL

Ok, maybe that’s too harsh of a title to use, but read the rest of the article and then let’s decide. I recently read an article talking about the serious issue affecting the NFL. The article talks about how the NFL Physicians Society has sent several newsletters and memos to the league, reminding them to “remain vigilant” about trying to prevent MRSA infections. Players like The Tampa Bay Buccaneer guard, Carl Nicks and place kicker Lawrence Tynes are fighting MRSA, a potentially life threatening staph infection resistant to most antibiotics.

One of the reasons this has become a problem seemingly more prevalent in the sports world,  is because these athletes are extremely sweaty. They are in close contact with each other on the field and in the locker room, sweating on the turf, equipment, towels and a ball that they pass from one person to the next.  Then there are the mouth guards. Continuously taken in and out of their mouth with their hands or dropped on the ground. Yuck!

So what does the NFL Physicians Society suggest these athletes do to prevent this increased risk of infection?  “Hand washing and good hygiene.” That’s the best advice they offer. And while suggesting hand washing and good hygiene is better than nothing at all, I think there has to be more that can be done.

It’s the year 2013, we know more about the spread of infection than say, 50 years ago. What kind of technology or science can we utilize to help these sweaty athletes stay healthy? One example I can think of is to utilize UVC light that we know is proven to kill germs. Have the players place those mouth guards and towels, etc. into a UV Flash that can disinfect in 60 seconds.

I’m sure a lot of you reading this also know a thing or two about infection prevention practices and have a few ideas yourself. The issue of infection not only lies in the NFL player’s locker room. We have to remember it’s rampant in the real world too and that’s an even bigger problem. Maybe the NFL needs to become a role model for hospitals and medical facilities!

I’m not saying hand washing doesn’t help limit the transfer of bacteria but if it was working so well, we wouldn’t be having such an epidemic. Other than hand washing, what would you suggest the NFL do to prevent the spread of infection? Who knows, maybe next year’s NFL Health and Safety Report will feature your idea as a new standard practice.

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August 30, 2013

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The Group Psychology of Infection Prevention

Have you ever thought about what drives human behavior? Have you ever wondered how extreme groups like the Nazi’s or Al-Qaeda were formed? Or how people make decisions in general? Or why we act one way in one situation and the complete opposite in another?

Are you stumped? That’s okay, when it comes to human behavior there are rarely any simple answers. My Social Psychology professor used to ask us yes or no questions all the time, and it got to be a running joke because the real answer was always, “It depends.”

I’ve heard a lot of ideas about what could be holding us back in infection prevention, and some of the discussions have reminded me of that Social Psychology class. Infection prevention is a group effort, and group dynamics can have a huge impact on behavior and, by extension, the quality of infection prevention. It doesn’t matter if there are infection prevention products and ideas of every size, shape, and cost. In the end, it is humans that using that technology and humans that are implementing those new ideas. And even though that copper table doesn’t care what the UV Flash thinks, the nurse using them both is susceptible to the effects of group dynamics.

Here are 5 Psychological Principles that could be hindering infection prevention in your healthcare facility:

 1. Group Think

Do you remember, in school, when the teacher would randomly assign people to groups and have them create a presentation, paper, or work on some sort of project? It can be stressful.  Everyone wants that group to get along and work well together because you all have a common goal and you’ll be more successful as a unit. “United we stand, divided we fall”, right? So oftentimes, you agree on one of the first ideas that is brought up. Any doubts or misgivings you have you keep to yourself because you don’t want to “rock the boat” or cause problems.

When it comes to infection prevention, workers, obviously, have a common goal: no infections. So if someone has an opinion contrary to what the group thinks, there is a chance they won’t want to risk causing problems and will keep quiet for the sake of group cohesiveness.

 2. Group Polarization

Let’s say you stand outside Comerica Park in downtown Detroit before a Tigers baseball game, pick out 10 people wearing a shirt with Miguel Cabrera’s name on the back, put them in a room together, and tell them to talk baseball. We already know these 10 people like the Tigers. We already know these 10 people like Cabrera (for all the readers not into baseball, he is one of Detroit’s top players).

What the Group Polarization theory claims is when these people are put in a group and told to talk about something that they already agree on, they’re opinion will become polarized. In other words, they’ll feed off each other and come out of that room with a stronger and more extreme opinion than they started with. One person might say, “I think Cabrera is the best player on the team.” And other is going to say, “Yeah he’s the best player on the team. Heck, he’s the best player in the American League!”  And a third will respond, “He’s the best player in the history of baseball!” And everyone will nod their heads and agree that, yes, Miguel Cabrera is the best baseball player in the history of baseball.

The same goes for infection prevention. If you get a group of hand washing advocates in the same room, they might say hand washing prevents the spread of MRSA. No, actually, hand washing is the BEST way to prevent the spread of MRSA. No, hand washing is the ONLY way to really prevent the spread of MRSA. In cohesive groups, members often get so fired up about one agreed-upon idea that they forget to consider alternatives.

 3. Group Conformity

In 1951, Solomon Asch conducted an experiment.  He would tell each participant they were taking a vision test with a group of about 5 other participants. However, the other participants in the group were actually confederates, or actors following the directions of the experimenter. The participants and confederates were then told to look at the line on the left and choose whether line A, B, or C on the right matched it most closely in length. Every time, the actual participant had to answer last, after hearing the confederates’ answers.

Now, I don’t want to influence your opinion, but line C is the correct choice, right? Well, what Asch would do is have every single confederate answer wrong, let’s say with Line A. And, even though Line A was clearly the wrong choice, the real participant almost always answered Line A, conforming with the group opinion.

Whether we admit it or not, we are all somewhat susceptible to the opinion of those around us. And if I’m a nurse in the Intensive Care Unit and every single other nurse appears to agrees that antimicrobial copper is a waste of time, I might bite my tongue to fit in with the group.

 4. Social Loafing

Okay, everyone, admit it. We’ve all slacked off in a group before because we assume someone else will take step up and take responsibility. It’s common, but it’s dangerous, especially when it comes to infection prevention. What if I’m working in a Sterile Processing Department and I don’t scrub an instrument thoroughly enough because I assume it’s someone else’s job to make sure that instrument comes out clean? How do I know that’s not what everyone else is thinking? Then who is actually taking responsibility? Is anyone?

5. Obedience

During WWII, the Nazis killed millions of people and carried out unimaginable acts of cruelty. On trial after the war, the most common defense was, “I was just following orders.” Obedience. Stanley Milgram tested this idea of obedience in one of the most famous psychological studies ever. I won’t into the details (read more about the experiment here), but he found that your average citizen was willing to administer dangerously high levels of electric voltage to another “participant” (actually a confederate following Milgram’s directions) just because a figure of authority told them to. Obedience.

If my supervisor tells me not to worry about cleaning that Operating Room, wouldn’t I assume that they know best since they’re in authority over me? If my boss tells me that new technology doesn’t actually work, wouldn’t I believe they know what they’re talking about? Blind obedience can be a huge obstacle to effective infection prevention.

paragrpah divider transparent

Infection prevention still has to be a group effort, there’s no way to avoid it. But we do need to be aware of some of the possible negative effects that come from working in groups and how that could negatively impact infection prevention. But, as we always say, knowledge is power. And the more aware you are of these group dynamics, the less susceptible you are to them.

Sources: allpsych.com, spring.org.uk, simplypsychology.org, psychology.about.com

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August 16, 2013

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5 Places (besides hospitals) that Need Better Infection Prevention

At Midbrook Medical, we are all about infection prevention. And as you can probably guess from our name, we usually focus our prevention efforts in the healthcare world. Eliminating the international epidemic that is Healthcare-Acquired Infections is something we believe should be on the top of everyone’s To Do List. But infection outbreaks and superbugs aren’t limited to healthcare facilities. There’s no security guard stopping MRSA at the exit door of a hospital saying, “Um sorry you can’t leave, you’re an HAI.”

A Healthcare-Acquired Infection outside of a healthcare facility is simply an infection. And these infections are equally as dangerous no matter where you contract them.

That’s why we can’t limit our infection prevention efforts to healthcare facilities only. Many of the advances and technologies we discuss everyday on our blog need to be implemented anywhere where there is a risk of contracting infection.

And, really, anywhere there are human beings, there is a risk.

But some places are more prone to outbreaks than others. Take a look at these 5 places that desperately need proper infection prevention:

1. Retirement Homes and Assisted Living Communities

On a superbug or infection FAQ sheet, there are always risk factors listed, things that increase the chance of contraction. One of the recurring risk factors is age. The elderly tend to have a weaker immune system, making them more prone to infections. Think about how it takes your grandma twice as long as you to get over a cold. And that’s just a cold. Getting over something like C. diff. would be another story altogether. Another group with a higher infection risk is those already on antibiotics. Maybe it’s just the elderly in my life, but I swear they take about half the drugstore every morning with breakfast. If you combine these risk factors with the fact that these communities have a lot of people living in close quarters, then you understand why they really need to be careful about preventing the spread of infections.

2. Dentist Offices

We talk all the time about cleaning the surgical instruments used in the operating rooms at hospitals, but what about those surgical tools used to pull out your wisdom teeth or fill a cavity? Those are some intricate tools that, if not cleaned and sterilized properly, could pass on infections just as easily as those in a hospital. And think about the number of patients that go in and out of a dentist’s office every single day. They’re sitting in the same waiting room chairs, they’re using the same doorknobs, and they could easily be passing on or receiving infections.

3.  Apartment Buildings and Dorms

My freshman year in college I think I vacuumed my dorm room two times at the most. In the dining hall, I ate too many cookies and not enough infection-fighting spinach. I didn’t get enough sleep. My throat hurt one time for about 2 weeks before I even thought about seeing a doctor. And I shared a community bathroom with all 30 girls in my hall. College dorms and apartments with young tenants are great for creating memories with your friends but a nightmare for infection prevention.

4. Athletic Facilities

Before I began working at Midbrook and doing any research on infections, I actually thought MRSA was something only athletes ever got. I had read so many articles on high school football players contracting it from unclean locker rooms or someone with MRSA going to their gym with an open wound and causing an outbreak. Athletic facilities, with their poorly cleaned machines and crowded, damp locker rooms, are breeding grounds for all sorts of infections.

5. Schools

Let’s talk about your average high schooler. She’s moving to a different classroom every hour, using the rusty old drinking fountain in the hall, taking the beat-up hall pass with her to the bathroom, sharing her dessert with her friends at lunch, and chewing on her pen. Honestly I could go on and on about the ways students are exposed to infections in a single classroom, let alone an entire building.

Each of these places poses a risk for infection in its own way. There isn’t one solution we can use to combat them all, just like there isn’t one solution that can eliminate HAIs. But there are technologies and methods already in existence that can be used to really make a dent in these infection rates. Ideas such as antimicrobial copper or UV light are already making waves in the healthcare world but can be just as effective in other settings as well. As long as we don’t get tunnel-vision, we can continue to combat infections, no matter where they appear.

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August 8, 2013

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Preaching to the Infection Prevention Choir

Have you ever heard the expression “You’re preaching to the choir”?

Basically, what it means is this: let’s say you’re busy trying to persuade a group of people, trying to convince those people to believe in something or someone. But the group of people you’re trying to convince are already believers, are already on your side. And not only are these “choir” members already believers, but they’re singing your praises, so to speak.

It’s like when a workout facility sends a newsletter to its members with research results describing the benefits of regular exercise. Or when a veterinary office hands out flyers in the waiting room condemning animal cruelty. Or when a drama club president gives a speech at their weekly meeting about the importance of fine arts.

When it comes to infection prevention, you guys are the “choir”. You’re the ones reading the blog, the ones who realize that infection prevention needs to improve, the ones who are trying to increase education and knowledge about HAIs (Healthcare-Acquired Infections), the ones discussing ideas and innovations with your coworkers, the ones who already care.

That’s why, for this week’s Thursday Thought of the Day, we would like to say THANK YOU.

Sometimes, I think we all get caught up on what needs to change, and what’s not working, and who’s not doing their part. We get so focused on what’s going wrong that we forget about what’s going right.

Take a look at this blog post. Nineteen new endoscopy units have been recognized for their commitment to quality and safety by the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE). Counting these 19 new units, over 450 units total have been recognized by the ASGE. That’s awesome. Over 450 units in the United States have proved themselves exceptional in caring for their patients’ safety. If we add 19 units every year, think of the progress we’ll make.

And what about this article? Seventeen hospitals in the Indianapolis region created a patient registry to keep track of all MRSA and VRE cases. By working together to identify crossover of infected patients, they can more easily focus their infection control efforts in the right direction.

And did you see this news? New Jersey is no longer the only state to require certification for its Central Sterile Processing Department (CSPD) Technicians. New York’s governor just signed a bill requiring technicians to receive certification and continuing education credits. If more states follow their example, it will soon be a lot easier to set standards for CSPDs and cleanliness levels.

Those are just three examples of things going right in the infection prevention world. They might be small steps, but they are certainly steps in the right direction. And they couldn’t have happened without the help of you and the other members of the infection prevention “choir”. So keep up the good work, and let’s continue working towards an HAI-free world.

And let us know what positive changes you’ve seen! What else is going right with infection prevention? What steps have healthcare facilities near you taken to cut down on their infection rates?

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August 2, 2013

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5 Royal Decrees of MRSA Prevention

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve all heard about the birth of England’s newest member of the royal family: George Alexander Louis, formally known as His Royal Highness Prince George of Cambridge and informally known as “Georgie”.

And even if you HAVE been living under a rock for the past 9 months and missed the initial baby bump rumor articles, the official pregnancy announcement, the royal gender and name speculation, and, of course, the “Royal Baby Watch”, don’t worry. There are timelines published to take you through the entire pregnancy, from the first rumors of a baby bump to the official name announcement.

Oh my goodness. That’s a whole lot of attention focused on a human being that’s not even 2 weeks old yet.

And don’t get me wrong, I love every second of it. But this royal baby craze did make me think, if little “Georgie” has this much control over our attention and priorities when he’s a newborn, where will he be when he’s an adult?

THAT got me thinking about what I would do if I were in his place, if I had the power to issue laws and command an entire nation. A lot of my royal decrees would probably have to do with things like mandatory afternoon naps and free ice cream from May-September, but I like to think I’d spend some time with infection prevention and HAIs (Healthcare-Acquired Infections) as well.

When it comes to infection prevention, one thing people don’t know is that there are steps THEY can take to lower their chances of contracting HAIs like the superbug MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus). It’s not just up to healthcare professionals. And if there was some way to make sure EVERYONE followed these steps (such a hypothetical royal decree…), we could really make a dent in the HAI rates.

So on that note, in honor of the birth of His Royal Highness, and with the help of the CDC website, I’ve issued 5 Royal Decrees of MRSA Prevention:

1. The Hygiene Decree

  • Thou shalt wash thy hands regularly in soap and water or an alcohol based hand rub
  • If thou regularly frequents an athletic facility, thou shalt shower immediately after participation as well as shower before use of a whirlpool

2. The Cuts & Scrapes Decree

  • Thou shalt keep thy cuts and scrapes clean and completely covered in order to prevent spreading  any of thine own diseases
  • Thou shalt have no contact whatsoever with another’s scrapes, wounds or bandages

3. The Sharing Decree

  • Contrary to thy mother’s teachings, thou shalt not share personal items such as razors or towels

4. The Laundry Decree

  • If thou art an athlete, thou shalt wash and dry uniforms following each use

5. The Communication Decree

  • Thou shalt report any possible infections to the proper authorities (doctor, coach, trainer…)
  • Thou shalt ask thy doctor or nurse to test for infection to ensure MRSA hath not colonized on thy skin

And I command that the decrees listed take effect within the fortnight!

Obviously, I’m not actually royalty (at least not that I know of), but I hope people keep these guidelines in the back of their mind. All of the decrees listed are very simple, it just takes a little effort to make them habit. And, in the case of HAI prevention, a little effort can go a long way.

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