Guidelines Offer Ways To Curb Antibiotic-Resistant Infections

CHAPEL HILL -- Infections caused by organisms that no longer respond to antibiotics are increasing alarmingly fast in hospitals and health care facilities across the nation, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill experts say. The most common infection, “Staph aureus,” now resists treatment by antibiotics in 29 percent of cases, up from about 2 percent in 1975.

Responding to the growing health concern, the N.C. Statewide Infection Control Program at the UNC-CH School of Medicine has prepared guidelines for preventing and controlling the spread of two of the most prevalent antibiotic-resistant infections. Program staff worked with others at the N.C. Communicable Disease Section on the project.

Designed to be easy to read, the eighteen-page document is titled, “North Carolina Guidelines for Control of Antibiotic-Resistant Organisms, Specifically Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Vancomycin-Resistant Enterococci (VRE).”

“These organisms, MRSA and VRE, present an ever-growing problem,” said Karen Hoffmann, co-author of the guidelines and a clinical instructor at the medical school. “The guidelines offer practices designed to reduce transmission between patients.”

Recently, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published rigorous “Isolation-Precaution” guidelines for hospitals, Hoffmann said, but the new N.C. statewide measures target facilities such as nursing homes and doctors' offices.

“The approach we took is very reasonable,” Hoffmann said. “It wouldn't make any sense, for example, to treat a patient at home the same way the CDC recommends treating a patient in intensive care. But until now, that was all anybody had to go by -- the CDC guidelines.”

Hoffmann and co-author Irene Kittrell, an infection control practitioner at UNC Hospitals, identified nine health-care settings needing cont

Contact: David Williamson
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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