Superbugs an Increasing Problem in Hospitals

For patients who develop infections while staying in a hospital, the chances of it becoming drug resistant increases 1% for each day of hospitalization, according to researchers from the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC).

For patients who develop infections while staying in a hospital, the chances of it becoming drug resistant increases 1% for each day of hospitalization, according to researchers from the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC).

The findings were presented at the 54th Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy (IAAC) in Washington, DC. The investigators analyzed historical data from 949 documented cases of gram-negative infection at the MUSC Medical Center.

Approximately, 1 in 25 hospitalized patients have at least one hospital-acquired infection and of those, one-third is caused by gram-negative bacteria, which are becoming increasingly resistant to most available antibiotics. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated in 2011 that 722,000 hospital-acquired infections resulted in 75,000 deaths.

About 20% of gram-negative infections within the first few days of hospitalization are classified as multidrug resistant. By day 10, the proportion peaks at roughly 35%.

"Our findings emphasize one of the risks of being in the hospital, acquiring a multidrug-resistant infection," John Bosso, an author of the paper, said in a statement. "At the very least, this observation argues against both unnecessary hospitalization and unnecessarily long hospitalization."

Another study presented at IAAC reported on a new test that allows for rapid identification of superbug infections. The Carba NP test, developed by Patrice Nordmann at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland, and Laurent Poirel at the University Hospital of the South-Paris Medical School, France, not only achieved 100% sensitivity, but took, on average, just 2.5 hours to complete.

While the polymerase chain reaction is currently the gold standard for identifying drug-resistant infections, the DNA-based test is expensive and requires equipment many labs do not have. The Carba NP test is much less expensive.

“We conclude that the Carba NP test is highly sensitive, specific and reproducible for the detection of carbapenemase production in a diverse group of organisms,” Karim Morey, an author on the study, said in a statement.