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How to Fight Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria in Hospital Rehabilitation

How to Fight Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria in Hospital Rehabilitation

As medicine and healthcare have advanced, so too have bacteria and disease. The most prominent example of this is antibiotic resistance. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) counts it as “one of the biggest public health challenges of our time.” 

It’s not an overstatement. The CDC notes that each year in the U.S., 2 million people get an antibiotic-resistant infection and around 23,000 people die as a result. It’s not limited to the U.S., either. Antibiotic resistance is a global issue found in all regions of the world

This threat is particularly dangerous for patients in hospital rehabilitation, who are more vulnerable to bacteria during recovery from injury or illness. Thankfully there are steps that can be taken to protect patients. Let’s explore how to fight antibiotic-resistant bacteria in hospital rehabilitation. 

Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria and Hospital Rehabilitation 

Antibiotic resistance happens when bacteria develop the ability to overcome drugs designed to kill them. They do this through evolving defenses called “resistance mechanisms,” which makes drugs less effective over time. Often, this means the bacteria is not killed, allowing it to grow and cause infection. 

How to fight antibiotic resistant bacteria

In the past, acute-care hospitals were almost exclusively the domain of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. However, an increase in care settings and movement of patients between those settings has changed things. Now rehabilitation, transitional care, and long-term care settings all face the threat of antibiotic resistance. 

So how do you deal with something that is constantly evolving to defeat the best treatments and defenses? Through proactive action. 

Antimicrobial Medical Devices

One of the best ways to address this threat is to fight antibiotic-resistant bacteria before it has a chance to infect or colonize patients. 

During rehabilitation, electrodes are often used in conjunction with electrotherapy. As recent research has shown, reusable electrodes are an overlooked vehicle for bacteria, including antibiotic-resistant varieties. According to data from the CDC, about 15 percent of healthcare-associated infections acquired in settings such as rehabilitation facilities are antibiotic-resistant. 

Even when cleaned after use, reusable electrodes continue to collect skin cells and bacteria after repeated therapy sessions. This increases the chance of exposure to harmful bacteria and subsequently, the chance of infection. Other rehab patients can be exposed, as well. 

When a patient’s electrodes are stored, they’re not isolated. They’re kept with other patients’ electrodes in storage. This presents an opportunity for the bacteria remaining on the electrode, and infection, to spread.

Considering the toll one of these infections can take, it’s best to take a proactive approach. Healthcare workers can do this with MicroBlock antimicrobial electrodes. They kill bacteria at the point of contact, where it would normally begin spreading. 

In fact, MicroBlock electrodes are specifically engineered to kill several antibiotic-resistant bacteria strains the CDC has identified as threats to public health. This list includes Vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE), Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and multidrug resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which the CDC considers to be serious threats in the U.S. 

Testing has proven that MicroBlock electrodes and their antimicrobial gel are more than 99 percent effective in eliminating these harmful forms of bacteria. By utilizing these antimicrobial electrodes, healthcare workers can stop infections from taking hold in the first place.

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Antibiotic Control and Stewardship

Antibiotic stewardship should also be an essential focus for hospital rehabilitation departments. Antibiotic control programs and stewardship can slow antibiotic resistance, which is critical for patient health during rehabilitation. 

A meta analysis of 26 studies confirmed that antibiotic resistance “significantly impacts” the patient illness burden. The study also confirmed patients with antibiotic-resistant infections are more likely to experience delays in clinical recovery after treatment with antibiotics. 

How to fight antibiotic resistant bacteria

To avoid these undesirable outcomes, healthcare workers should be deliberate about the use of antibiotics. This involves limiting the use of inappropriate agents and selecting the appropriate antibiotic, dosage, and duration of therapy. 

The results can be eye-opening. 

In an effort to improve antibiotic stewardship, Burke Rehabilitation Hospital implemented a daily review of all oral and IV antibiotic orders for six weeks. The hospital staff found 19 percent of the antibiotics prescribed were inappropriate and would have remained so without the program. Several behaviors fell under the umbrella of “inappropriate” including: 

  • Bacteria-drug mismatch
  • Wrong dosage
  • Wrong drug 
  • Unclear direction on duration of therapy
  • Duplicate therapy

A continuation of the study revealed similar findings. The study was repeated twice—during a three-week period and a four-week period. In each instance, the percentage of inappropriate orders requiring intervention was also around 19 percent. 

As the employees at Burke Rehabilitation Hospital discovered, communication and accountability is critical to making these programs work. The CDC recommends several core components to do this.

First, there has to be a commitment on the part of leadership to dedicate any necessary resources. Once there’s sufficient commitment, a single person should lead the program—someone accountable for implementation and outcomes. 

Naturally, antibiotics are a core element of these programs, so a single pharmacist should lead and educate the staff on improved antibiotic use. Finally, data should be collected through regular monitoring and reporting.  

Keeping up with ever-evolving, antibiotic-resistant bacteria is a challenge. However, it is a challenge that can be met with an equal willingness to evolve and take a proactive approach. 

If you would like to know more about the MicroBlock or would like a free sample of this innovative product, please contact us on our website.