Communication among health care systems is the key to prevent spread of drug-resistant bacteria


According to new research, the drug-resistant bacterium can spread extensively and pave the way for outbreaks of infection as a result of communication breakdowns between care facilities. The CDC and the National Institutes of Health supported the study, published in Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology.

In collaboration with the OSU/OHSU College of Pharmacy, Oregon Health Authority and other associates, they conducted a two-year study on Acinetobacter baumannii. This is an opportunistic pathogen associated with infections among patients, admitted to hospitals.

In the study, a total of 21 cases from the Pacific Northwest were analyzed. Among these 16 isolates of A. baumannii that contained a rare gene responsible for resistance to the carbapenem (antibiotics). The patient’s transfer history and the isolates' genetic profiles were used to study the spread of the organism.

According to Jon Furuno, an associate professor in the College of Pharmacy, the outcomes support Oregon law. This law states the requirement of written notification from the discharging facility to the receiving facility when a patient is carrying a multidrug-resistant organism.

"It just makes sense that you would want to alert a receiving facility if patients have a specific drug-resistant organism," Furuno said.

Genevieve Buser, a pediatric infectious disease specialist, said communication could ensure when appropriate contact precautions are taken.

"An entire chain of transmission can be prevented if staffs at a receiving facility know about a patient's multidrug-resistant organism status," Buser said. "This outbreak might not have been identified if not for a new, limited, voluntary surveillance system in Oregon and an astute infection preventionist."

Other organizations collaborating on this research included the VA Portland Health Care System; the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center; the Division of Infectious Diseases at Oregon Health & Science University; Case Western Reserve University; and the Oregon State Public Health Laboratory.