Superbugs follow 1 in 4 seniors from the hospital to post-acute care settings, study finds

Superbugs are following seniors from the hospital to post-acute care facilities--where they're picking up even more bugs, according to research reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine.

The study of 357 seniors found that 24 percent had at least one multidrug-resistant organism (MDRO) on their hands when they checked in to the post-acute care center, according to an announcement from the University of Michigan. Regular checks during stays of up to six months showed the number of seniors with superbugs rose to 34 percent.

"Patient hand washing is not a routine practice in hospitals," lead author Lona Mody, M.D., associate chief for clinical and translational research at the university's geriatrics center, said in the announcement. "We need to build on the overarching principles we've already developed with adult learning theories and bring them to patients."

The research focused on the superbugs present on a patient's hand, where hand hygiene can have the biggest impact, and not on healthcare-acquired infections (HAIs) that can occur from a number of MDROs.

For its part, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently recommended HAI-prevention efforts focus on three areas: surgeries and catheter placements, the spread of bacteria between patients and improved antibiotic use. But the CDC report also reinforced the importance of staff following established practices for hand hygiene.

One hospital in Florida halted a two-decade spread of the superbug of Acinetobacter baumannii with weekly emails from the medical director of infection control, FierceHealthcare previously reported. Cases of the drug-resistant A. baumanii fell from 5.13 per 10,000 patient days to 1.93 over a three-year period.

The emails briefed the C-suite about new infections and advised leaders on new initiatives to improve hand hygiene and infection control, among other topics.

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