What do you do when some of the most common bacteria are also the most resistant to treatment?
Healthcare professionals in Australia were reminded of this challenging question earlier this month when The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care released their latest six-month report.
The report named carbapenemase-producing enterobacteriaceae (CPE) and neisseria gonorrhoeae (N. gonorrhoeae) as the most prevalent and critically resistant bacteria. Both bacteria pose significant challenges. CPE, which already has limited treatment options, causes common infections in hospitals and carries significant risks for a variety of age groups, including young children. N. gonorrhoeae is also highly resistant to the most effective and common antibiotics, increasing the likelihood of community-based outbreaks.
The information released in the report is, in many ways, not news. Antimicrobial resistance is an ongoing problem. National Surveillance System for Antimicrobial Use and Resistance in Australia (AURA) focuses on collecting data, compiling reports, and generating alerts on bacteria that are at critical resistance. Between October 2017 and March 2018, labs identified 653 critically resistant bacteria, 48 per cent of which were detected from patients that had been in hospital.
“Knowing which new bacteria are emerging as potential threats allows us to take the initiative in the fight against antimicrobial resistance,” said Professor John Turnidge, the Commission’s Senior Medical Advisor for the AURA Surveillance System, after the reports release.
All Part of the Bigger Picture
The Safer Care Saves Money report, released this week, highlights how hospital acquired infections fit into an even bigger picture – a $5 billion picture, to be exact.
According to the report, hospital complications which include HAIs, cost public hospitals more than $4 billion a year and private hospitals more than $1 billion.
But while the infection prevention landscape is becoming increasingly complicated, the bigger picture is not all bad. Since the launch of AURA in 2015, infection prevention teams across Australian healthcare institutions have been able to be more informed on resistant bacteria and the risks posed to their patient populations.
While surveillance like AURA on a national level is essential to track this issue on a larger scale and provide guidance on policy changes and financial commitments, institution-level reporting is also necessary to help guide interventions at the local level.