A superbug is a strain of bacteria that is resistant to treatment with multiple antibiotics. They are considered a threat to public safety and led the White House to release a comprehensive plan to combat drug-resistant bacteria. This followed an outbreak of the antibiotic resistant bacteria Klebsiella pneumoniae that killed 11 patients at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center in 2011-2012. An attempt to stop the spread of the infection determined that the superbug was multiplying in the hospital’s sinks.
According to a study by researchers from the University of Virginia Health System published in Applied and Environmental Biology, there is an alarming worldwide increase in the number of sink-related superbug outbreaks. The study showed that bacteria not only thrive in drains, but when water is running, they can splash out of the sink – sometimes reaching surfaces more than two feet away.
Sink design is crucial as the study found that the U-shaped trap of most traditional sinks holds water where the bacteria can grow. They grew from there up the sides of the pipe to the mouth of the drain. Growing bacteria form a biofilm which is sticky and not easily washed away. It was also discovered that the bacteria in the study could be transmitted to a neighboring sink via wastewater plumbing connections. The position of the faucet is also important to contain splashing. It is preferable that the water does not directly hit the drain and then splash out again.
A Short-Term Solution
The epidemiologists at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) who eventually controlled the superbug outbreak said they had to remove and scrub sink traps with wire brushes and bleach. This was followed by a daily treatment with bleach spray. Although the treatment was finally successful for the NIH, it has not worked for every hospital with a superbug outbreak. Some hospitals report that despite even replacing their sinks, the superbugs continued to grow.
The NIH now has new screening procedures in place to help prevent another superbug outbreak. Every patient that transfers into the hospital must be tested for superbugs. Intensive care patients are screened twice a week and regular patients are screened monthly.
Nationwide, more than two million people suffer a drug resistant infection each year. For 23,000 of them the infection proves fatal. The cost in dollars is $35 billion in productivity according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Chester County Medical Malpractice Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC Advocate on Behalf of Victims of Hospital Negligence
The hospital should be the place where people go to get better. If you or someone you know has contracted a hospital acquired infection due to negligent practices, you may be eligible for compensation. The experienced Chester County medical malpractice lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC can help you determine what legal action is necessary. Call us at 215-569-8488 or contact us online to set up a free consultation at one of our offices. We are conveniently located in Wilmington, Delaware and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.