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New machinery helps hospitals detect super bugs

– Lutheran Health Network and Parkview Health both have detection systems in place.

A new machine and system at Lutheran Health Network will enable staff to rapidly identify and treat the bacteria and viruses responsible for some of the most complex, costly and deadly infectious diseases, Angel Heyerly. said

Heyerly, a pharmacist who has worked at Lutheran for nearly 15 years, is the infection control go-to person and a member of Lutheran’s Antimicrobial Stewardship Team. The team also includes a microbiologist and an infection control physician and nurse, Heyerly said.

“The technology can tell us within hours what is growing in the blood. It used to take two days for results,” Heyerly said.

Infection control practices include instruction for clinicians on using the right antibiotics and how to negate some of the toxic side effects of those drugs, she said.

“We now have bugs that we can’t treat due to overprescribing of drugs,” Heyerly said. “Our goal is to make sure patients are on the appropriate antibiotic for the infection they have.”

The staff evaluates each new patient and removes any antibiotics they are taking if not needed or if it’s the wrong antibiotic for the type of illness the patient has, Heyerly said.

“K. pneumonia and MRSA are two of many types of drug-resistant organisms that are really scary for patients to get,” she said. “We don’t see near as many cases as the East or West coasts because we are in a pocket in the Midwest, but it doesn’t mean it won’t be here. These bugs move fast.”

Parkview Health also has recently incorporated a new detection machine and system to help with the growing super bug problem. Although a different type from Lutheran’s, both are in the advanced molecular technology category.

The machine will allow staff to detect DNA in organisms such as MRSA and KPC, said Dr. Scott Stienecker, medical director of epidemiology and infection prevention and director of infectious disease services at Parkview Health.

Hospital officials have also reached out to nursing homes to assist with infection control practices, he said.

“Patients are moving through the blender of the acute hospitals, university hospitals, long-term acute care, extended care facilities and then back to the hospital,” Stienecker said. “We see this movement but only a piece at a time.”

Communicating with other health care facilities will help break the cycle of infection, he said.

Stienecker agrees with the World Heath Organization’s assessment that the problem is so serious it threatens the achievements of modern medicine.

“If we continue on our current path toward an antibiotic nuclear winter, it has the potential to wipe out humanity as we know it,” Stienecker said.