New CDC Guidelines Fall Short of “Search and Destroy” | DC Metro Area Medical Malpractice Law Blog

As recently reported by Arthur Allen in his article Squash the Bug – Europe is Killing Off Hospital Infections.  Why Isn’t the United States Following Suit?, many European nations are successfully combating multidrug-resistant organisms (MDROs) in healthcare settings using a method called “search and destroy.”  As defined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), MDROs are microorganisms, predominantly bacteria, that are resistant to one or more classes of antimicrobial agents, such as methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MSRA) and vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE).  In the United States, MDROs continue to present a serious – and increasing – health threat, so much so that, as Allen puts it, “[i]f you are an American admitted to a hospital in Amsterdam, Toronto, or Copenhagen these days, you’ll be considered a biohazard.”

Allen goes on to describe the “search and destroy” method using this scenario.  As an American (and biohazard), “[d]octors and nurses will likely put you into quarantine while they determine whether you’re carrying [MRSA], a deadly organism that is increasingly common stateside, especially in our hospitals. And if you test positive for [MRSA], these European and Canadian hospital workers will don protective gloves, masks, and gowns each time they approach you, and then strip off the gear and scrub down vigorously when they leave your room.”  Allen continues by noting that “our own health authorities, meanwhile, have been strangely reluctant to join the assault” and that “the CDC refuses to endorse search and destroy. It is sticking to the mantra that hospital workers should wash their hands more carefully and frequently, and that in most cases patients should be isolated only after symptoms of infection with MRSA appear.  Routine surveillance to find patients who may not be symptomatic, but are still contagious, is rarely practiced, and not recommended in the CDC’s new hospital infection-fighting guidelines, which were released [on October 19, 2006] after five years of deliberations. The guidelines do not include a routine recommendation for search and destroy.”

For the full text of the Allen article, see Squash the Bug – Europe is Killing Off Hospital Infections.  Why Isn’t the United States Following Suit?, and to read the CDC guidelines that are its subject, see Management of Multidrug-Resistant Organisms in Healthcare Settings, 2006.

If you or a family member has suffered injuries in connection with an MDRO infection, please contact us on-line at Regan Zambri & Long or call us at (202) 753-4272 for a free consultation.  If you would like to receive our electronic newsletter, please click here.