Superbugs: Preventing Antibiotic Resistance

by Erica Mitchell | July 31 2019

Superbugs, or antibiotic-resistant bacteria, are posing an increasingly difficult challenge for healthcare facilities. Some bacteria are resistant to certain classes of antibiotics. Some are resistant to all but the strongest, and often most expensive, antibiotics. These superbugs are called MDR, multiple-drug-resistant. Others still, while very rare, are resistant to all known antibiotics. One example, carbapanem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) is resistant to even the most powerful antibiotics, has high mortality rates, and can easily spread its superpowers to neighboring organisms.

So how do we keep helping create these superbugs that are so hard to kill? And what can we do about it?

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Superbugs: Horizontal Gene Transfer

by Erica Mitchell | July 24 2019

In our earlier post, we explored the way mutations in bacteria can result in antibiotic resistance. If a mutation helps a bacteria survive its environment, it passes that strength on to future generations, who also survive. Pretty simple. But did you know that bacteria can also transfer their resistant genes to neighboring bacteria, just like mailing them a letter?

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Flesh-Eating Bacteria: What Beach-Associated Infections Can Teach Us About HAIs

by Erica Mitchell | July 19 2019

It seems like it's not officially summer without at least once newspaper headline warning us about "flesh-eating bacteria" cases connected to popular beaches. This disturbing trend - there are more and more cases each year - has been connected to climate change as well as agricultural run-off. Whatever the cause, these infections can lead to severe injury and even death. But as it turns out, this health risk can also teach us a few things about a far more fatal crisis: healthcare-acquired infections, or HAIs.

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Emojis, Social Media and Infection Control

by Erica Mitchell | July 17 2019

In 2019, Unicode 12.0 announced the addition of a stethoscope, adhesive bandage and safety vest to the growing list of emojis perfect for any phone-carrying, text-message-typing infection preventionist. Back in 2018, nestled among the smiles and food, premiered a lab coat, sponge, bar of soap, DNA, test tube, and most excitingly, microbe and cultured petri dish.  We can only imagine the ways you all will use these new emoji!  In honor of #WorldEmojiDay, we’re going to examine how social media is used as a tool to improve patient safety.  

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Environmental Services: First Line of Defense Against HAIs

by Erica Mitchell | July 12 2019

Consider a staff position "as important as the medical staff [since] an unclean and unsafe medical facility cannot function properly" (Healthsource, 2018). An employee who is "first line of defense against infections" (HFM, 2018). A worker whose "attention to detail sets the stage for a clean and safe healthcare environment" (ASHE, 2016). In the past, this individual might have been called a custodian, a word that captures responsibility, trust, and safe-keeping. Today, this critical healthcare staff member may be known as an environmental services technician, but the responsibility and trust remain. In today's post, we'll explore the push and pull from different priorities experienced by environmental services personnel.

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Superbugs: Vertical Gene Transfer

by Erica Mitchell | July 11 2019

"Superbugs," or antibiotic-resistant bacteria, have been in the news a lot lately. These types of bacteria can cause infections that are very difficult to treat since they are not killed by conventional antibiotics. While most of them can be eradicated, it requires very powerful (and costly) antibiotics. And most terrifying, we play a role in creating these superbugs. To see how, we first need to understand how bacteria reproduce and how they adapt (and share that adaptation to their surrounding buddies).

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Career Focus: What is an Infection Preventionist?

by Erica Mitchell | July 3 2019

In the 1970s, infection control and prevention became a specialty in it's own right. Since then, the role and expertise of the individual tasked with preventing and controlling infections has grown and evolved. Originally, individuals charged with hospital infection control typically had a nursing background and executed tasks closely related to a clinical nurse specialist - supervision, education, reporting, and clinical expertise. However, recent changes in accountability and hospital finance management have spurred an expansion of duties for this individual, now more appropriately called an "Infection Preventionist." What do these individuals do in a hospital? What are their job expectations and core competencies? Join us as we explore this vital profession within the field of healthcare.

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