Drug-Resistant Bacteria on the Rise at Nursing Homes

In a new study released by Columbia University School of Nursing, a quarter of nursing homes had a “significant presence” of multidrug-resistant bacteria. The study reviewed eight prior studies, and the reported rates of drug-resistant bacteria ranged from 11 percent to a whopping 59 percent – with 27 percent the average. Multi-drug resistant bacteria are especially dangerous to nursing home patients, where patients frequently have other medical ailments, a weakened immune system, and increased exposure to germs and bacteria. These drug-resistant types of bacteria can cause serious infections such as pneumonia, bloodstream infections and menangitis.

pills8-300x225Unfortunately these results are not surprising. The CDC warns that multi-drug resistant bacteria are on the rise throughout the world, owed largely to the widespread (and commonly unnecessary) use of antibiotics. The once easily-defeated bacteria have adapted and now built a resistance to commonly prescribed antibiotics. Unfortunately, drug makers are also pushing fewer new antibiotics to market. Put together, health experts warn of an impending health crisis.

Nursing homes are the likeliest home for colonized bacteria for a several reasons. First, many nursing home patients have weakened immune systems and can sometimes require lengthy antibiotic use which contributes to antibiotic resistance. Second, nursing home patients are also frequently hospitalized – a breeding ground for bacteria. In fact, 90 percent of admissions to nursing homes come from a hospital. Third, because nursing home residents share their communal spaces then bacteria and germs have ample opportunity to spread from resident to resident. Last, nursing home facilities can often have limited resources – leading to understaffing, poor training, and inadequate supervision of both nursing home residents and staff.

On the takeaway from the study, Sainfer Allyu, of Colubmia Nursing School, said, “”Identifying which patients are most prone to an increased risk of MDR-GNB will enable infection preventionists to tailor efforts and stem future contaminations. The results of our study suggest that there is much more to be done with regard to infection prevention within nursing homes, and that increased measures must be taken with elderly patients in regard to MDR-GNB colonization.”


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