Antibiotic resistant bacteria, also known as multiple drug resistant organisms (MDROs), are germs that have developed resistance to multiple antibiotics over the years due to overuse of antibiotics – when antibiotics are taken longer than necessary, or taken when they are not needed. These MDROs then develop and can go on to infect others.
New MDROs are constantly developing. They are mainly found in hospitals and long-term care facilities, typically affecting the elderly and patients who are severely ill.
MDROs are commonly spread from patient to patient at the hands of a healthcare worker, or when people come in contact with an infected person, such as touching a draining wound. These germs can also be spread when a patient comes in contact with an object contaminated with the organism, such as on bedrails or IV poles.
- People on long-term use of antibiotics
- People with a severe illness or underlying disease such as diabetes, kidney disease or wounds
- People who have invasive procedures such as dialysis, catheter insertions, drain tube insertions or IV therapy
- People who have had repeated hospitalizations or a long hospital stay
- People who are elderly or immune-suppressed
Serious MDROs have developed from common skin and intestinal organisms which have developed antibiotic resistance:
- Staphylococcus aureus germs, including:
- MRSA: Methicillin-resistant staph aureus
- CA-MRSA: Community-acquired MRSA
- VISA: Vancomycin intermediate-resistant staph aureus (very dangerous, rare)
- VRSA: Vancomycin resistant staph aureus (very dangerous, rare, most difficult to treat)
- Enterococcus germs, a family of intestinal organisms, including:
- VRE: Vancomycin resistant enterococcus
All the organisms above can be spread by direct or indirect contact. To avoid the spread, follow these precautions:
- In general, contact precautions should be used when patients have been identified with one of the MDROs listed above
- Full long-sleeved isolation gowns should be worn by all those caring for the infected patient
- You will need to assure that clothes do not come in contact with items that would likely contain a lot of germs (e.g., bathroom, bed linens)
- The most important part of contact precautions is appropriate hand washing and wearing gloves
Contact precautions are indicated as long has the patient has symptoms (e.g. unhealed
infected wound, watery stools several times a day).
MDROs are difficult to treat because they do not respond to many common antibiotics, even the most powerful ones. There are some antibiotics that can help control MDROs in most people, and the doctor will try to find the best antibiotic for the MDRO.
To help lessen the impact of antibiotic resistant bacteria, everyone should advocate for antibiotic best practices and antibiotic stewardship. Only use an antibiotic for a true bacterial infection. A lot of infections are caused by viruses. Antibiotics do not work on viruses, and use of antibiotics in these instances can contribute to the problem of antibiotic resistant organisms.