LINCOLN COUNTY, N.C. - Hospitals in the Charlotte area told Eyewitness News they have taken preventative steps prior to the news of three superbug CRE cases at an area hospital.
LINK: What You Should Know About ‘Superbug’ CRE
The three cases have all been confirmed at Carolinas HealthCare System- Lincoln this year, a spokesperson wrote in a news release.
Two people were infected outside of the hospital and the third victim was infected inside Carolinas Health Care System-Lincoln, a spokesperson said.
"CRE, which stands for carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, are a family of germs that are difficult to treat because they have high levels of resistance to antibiotics," according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
CHS has taken steps to address the infections, including using decontamination procedures and protocols that go beyond industry standards.
They are actively performing CRE screenings for patients at highest risk.
Novant Health said Saturday had no reports of cases of CRE.
"At Novant Health, the safety of our patients is our top priority. We employ two sterilization managers whose sole responsibility is to ensure that our hospitals across the system adhere to the most current sterilization and high-level disinfection processes," Novant Health officials wrote in a statement.
The infection does not spread easily. A person would likely have to touch an infected wound or stool and then touch an open wound, health officials said. That's why the superbug is found most often in health-care scenarios.
"It's primarily isolated to health care facilities so if you're not undergoing a medical procedure you're otherwise safe," said Lawrence Muscarella, president of LFM Healthcare Solutions. Muscarella has studied the spread of disease through medical devices called "endoscopes.”
A superbug CRE outbreak at the University of California-Los Angeles Medical Center this week has been linked to certain medical scopes.
Muscarella told Eyewitness News that it is possible for the infection to spread beyond the walls of a hospital if a patient with CRE goes for treatment at another facility.
"You can get superbug that can be transmitted from one hospital to another even to long term care facilities," Muscarella said.
CHS’s full statement:
The presence of infections in healthcare facilities is an ongoing national challenge. Carolinas HealthCare System is aggressively addressing this issue, including using decontamination procedures and protocols that go beyond industry standards. In some cases, patients bring the infections with them when they are admitted and in other cases infections are acquired in the hospital. There have been three cases identified at Carolinas HealthCare System Lincoln this year – two of which were acquired outside of the hospital. Carolinas HealthCare System hospitals have instituted steps to address these infections, including:
• Placing any patients found with CRE in isolation, requiring all who enter the room to wear gowns, gloves and practice rigorous hand hygiene
• Using equipment in the room that is dedicated to patients with CRE
• Performing room cleanings on a daily basis
• Also, some facilities with the highest-risk patients have dedicated nursing staff for patients with CRE, employ additional decontamination measures using UV light for rooms after patients with CRE and other drug-resistant infections are discharged, and actively perform CRE screenings for patients at highest risk
Regarding the use of a specialized type of equipment called a “duodenoscope,” Carolinas HealthCare System has been using industry standard methods for disinfecting its equipment. Prior to recently published reports about CRE infections resulting from use of this equipment, Carolinas HealthCare System began to improve its cleaning process by:
• Enhancing its current high-level disinfection process by using a “triple wash” process to clean equipment
• Employing an additional sterilization process on equipment using a gas called Ethylene Oxide
• All duodenoscopes that have been tested have shown to be negative for CRE