Niagara Gazette

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May 3, 2013

GUEST VIEW: Practicing proper infection control

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette — What can the medical community do? Despite the known presence of these pathogens in New York, here at Mount St. Mary’s Hospital, we have thankfully had very little exposure to these organisms so far. We actively screen all positive cultures for evidence of this type of organism and have a plan in place if one is identified. We also have a robust infection control and antibiotic stewardship program. We strive to use the narrowest-spectrum antibiotic possible for the shortest time necessary while still properly treating the patient. This is a difficult juggling act, but it allows us to protect as much of the “good” bacteria in the patient’s body as possible. These good bacteria live harmlessly within our bodies and are one of our best defenses against the development of disease. Their presence helps crowd out bad bacteria by denying them a place to establish themselves. In addition, we actively monitor and remove all catheters and IV lines when no longer necessary. These devices can and do provide a “safe zone” for these pathogens and facilitate their entrance into normally sterile portions of a patient. Finally, we try to minimize your time in the hospital as much as is possible to help avoid exposure to hospital acquired infections.

What can you do? The usual advice still applies. Wash your hands regularly and avoid antibiotics unless prescribed by your doctor. Do not try and pressure your physician into prescribing antibiotics over the phone or for what he or she feels is a viral illness. If you’re in the hospital yourself or visiting loved ones, please follow all infection control mandates including the use of gowns and gloves if instructed to do so by your nurse. Together we can help keep these dangerous bugs out of our community and keep our families safe.

Thomas Cumbo, M.D., is the head of the Division of Infectious Disease at Mount St. Mary’s Hospital.

Thomas Cumbo, M.D., is the head of the Division of Infectious Disease at Mount St. Mary's Hospital.

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