Coordinated hospital efforts can lower spread of CRE superbug

Hospitals and healthcare institutions can reduce the spread of the emerging "superbug" carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) by 75 percent when they coordinate their efforts, according to a study by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

The research team announced its findings on Tuesday and said that while individual hospitals and local infection control efforts helped against CRE and other superbugs, they can achieve extraordinary results when institutions coordinate their efforts. The results were published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

CRE is difficult to treat because it is resistant to antibiotics and kills up to 50 percent of patients who are infected, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Researchers simulated the spread of the superbug throughout Orange County, California, under three scenarios: no extra interventions, interventions at individual facilities and coordinated efforts using the interventions. They found that the coordinated approach prevented 77 percent of total infections. But no new infection control measures led CRE to spread in nearly all Orange County facilities within a decade. 

"It's like a neighborhood watch program where neighbors work with and watch out for each other," Bruce Y. Lee, M.D., associate professor in the Bloomberg School's Department of International Health, said in the study announcement. "This approach tends to be more effective than a homeowner doing it alone. When it comes to healthcare facilities and superbugs, the same principles of communication and coordination apply."

To learn more:
- read the announcement
- here's the study abstract