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Nearly a Quarter of Seniors Leave Hospitals With Superbugs on Their Hands


We all know superbugs are life threatening bacteria that are a major thorn in the side of the healthcare industry-- particularly because they can be found in medical facilities everywhere, they often infect unsuspecting patients and they are resistant to antibiotics.

In fact, the Center For Disease Control says about 2 million people get sick from a superbug each year and 23,000 die from it.

So imagine how frightening it is to learn that 1 in 4 senior citizen patients who spend time in a hospital will walk out with a superbug on their hands.

In a new study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, University of Michigan researchers tested 357 seniors who were discharged from hospitals, then examined prior to being admitted into a post acute care (PAC) facility or nursing home.

It turns out that 24 percent of these patients, who were in facilities throughout southeast Michigan, contracted at least one super bug or multidrug resistant organism during their hospital stay.

The research also showed that these seniors pick up even more superbugs once they transition from the hospital to post acute care facilities and nursing homes.

The patients were tested after spending two weeks at the facility, then tested once a month for six months afterward.

Throughout that period, the number of patients with superbugs on their hands actually jumped to 34 percent.

Dr. LonaMody, the lead author of the study and associate chief for clinical and translational research at the University of Michigan Geriatrics, points out that this problem must be remedied by patient education.

“We’ve been educating health care workers for decades about hand hygiene, and these numbers show it’s time to include patients in their own hand hygiene performance and education,” lead study author Dr. Mody said in a news release.

Another component that contributes to the spread of superbugs is seniors who chose to be in facilities that are extremely social and filled with group activities. While having a sense of community is great for emotional and even physical health, it can lead to the spread of superbugs. The fact that antibiotics are heavily used in these facilities may lead to strains of infectious bacteria becoming resistant to medicine.

Mody hopes that the healthcare industry takes steps to promote more handwashing among patients and recommends that patients are shown what superbugs look like by growing the bacteria in a lab.

While many hospitals make it a point to push frequent hand washing among nurses, doctors and other healthcare workers, patients have never been held to these kind of standards.

Do you think it’s realistic that hospitals and other healthcare facilities get patients to implement frequent patient handwashing? What suggestions would you have for encouraging them to comply.

To see JAMA's study, click here:


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