Superbugs are resilient and are not contained to just one healthcare facility. Stopping the spread of superbugs is a challenge, particularly for senior citizens with compromised health. In Chicago, some nursing homes are combating superbugs the old-fashioned way: with soap.
The antimicrobial soap chlorhexidine is being used by doctors and healthcare workers to scrub away the bacteria that keep superbugs lingering. It has shown to reduce infections in patients who bathe with the soap and is available over the counter, but has caused rare, but severe, allergic reactions.
In Chicago, 14 nursing and acute care facilities are working with researchers on a CDC-funded project. The facilities are screening residents for the bacteria and bathing them daily with chlorhexidine. For most nursing homes, this practice is new.
According to a Kaiser Health News analysis, three-quarters of U.S. nursing homes received citations over a four-year period for infection control concerns. Nursing home residents are often sent to hospitals for infection treatment.
A similar project in Orange County, California is wrapping up and preliminary results show it's working. Results are still pending in Chicago.
After 18 months, California researchers saw a 25 percent decline in drug-resistant organisms in nursing home residents, 34 percent in patients of long-term acute care hospitals and 9 percent in traditional hospital patients. The most dramatic drops were in CRE, though the number of patients with that type of bacteria was smaller, according to National Public Radio.
What you can do to prevent superbug infections
While it's up to scientists to create new antibiotics and to health care personnel to prevent superbug epidemics in hospitals, there's still a lot that you can do to stop these germs from spreading, including the following:
- Wash your hands
You probably wash your hands after using the bathroom, before preparing or eating food, and after gardening or other dirty tasks. You should also wash up after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; feeding or stroking your pet; or visiting or caring for a sick person.
- Get recommended vaccines
You're more susceptible to a superbug infection if you have the flu, pneumonia or shingles.
- Use antibiotics properly
Don't insist on an antibiotic if your doctor doesn't think you need one. Be willing to wait for test results to determine what bacterium you have and what medication is best for treating it. Don't take antibiotics that are left over from an earlier illness or have been prescribed for someone else. When you do take antibiotics, take them exactly as prescribed.
If you live in the Chicago area and are concerned that you or a loved one contracted an infection because of poor nursing care practices. Contact us today and let our experts handle your case while you heal.