obama administration calls for new offensive in fight against hais

Both state and federal health officials have long known about the serious risks posed by hospital-acquired infections, which are responsible for thousands of patient deaths per year. However, despite this knowledge and the understanding that something more needs to be done, HAIs continue to emerge and continue to pose a deadly threat.

Consider the recent outbreak of the superbug known as carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae — or CRE — at several medical institutions across the U.S. that was later traced to the ineffective sterilization procedures for a certain type of medical scope used in an estimated 500,000 procedures every year.

Fortunately, it appears that a coordinated response to this growing crisis may soon be forthcoming, as the White House not only requested $1.2 billion for the purpose of fighting superbugs back in January (double the current budget), but also released a report last week calling for the implementation of a five-point plan to combat HAIs.

The five points advanced by the Obama Administration in its 60-page report include:

  • Stopping the development and spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria.
  • Reducing the spread of antibiotic resistance via enhanced data surveillance.
  • Enhancing research and development of new antibiotics and therapeutics.
  • Enhancing development and use of new testing procedures designed to detect antibiotic resistant bacteria.
  • Fostering international cooperation to help combat the spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria.

The plan also calls for U.S. hospitals to take more active measures in controlling the spread of HAIs, including developing programs that utilize comprehensive sterilization techniques and introducing measures to reduce unnecessary antibiotic use.

The plan envisions a 50 percent reduction in Clostridium difficile (C. diff) infections and Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections, as well as a 60 percent reduction in carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE).

Given the toll these HAIs have taken on the patient population, we can only hope these measures are implemented and the necessary changes are made moving forward.

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