I have some further thoughts on where we should go. First, as I said earlier this week, we need a national response to CRE and antimicrobial resistance in general. This response needs to be horizontal in approach, as Mike Edmond and Dick Wenzel recommended several years ago. For it is quite clear that if we follow the vertical approach recommended by the CDC and others, swab for CRE and isolate, that this will bankrupt hospitals and ultimately fail.
This surveillance approach will bankrupt us, because CRE isn't the only "nightmare" in our hospitals. Back in 2010, when Dan was discussing MRSA on NPR, he said so eloquently: "MRSA is not the only bad bug out there. It's just the most famous."
And along with MRSA, we have VRE and ESBL and C. difficile and Acinetobacter and MDR-Pseudomonas. You see, we might not be able to take this single-hospital outbreak approach and extrapolate it to the entire country and 10+ pathogens.
And if there is one lesson we should be taking away from the NIH CRE outbreak it's not that new-fangled whole genome sequence stopped the outbreak (because it didn't), it's that the outbreak spread and killed many patients despite herculean efforts to detect and eliminate it.
Furthermore, if we target MRSA like many hospitals are now doing with chlorhexidine (CHG) baths, this approach could select for Gram-negative bacteria like CRE.
(1) Invest significantly in antimicrobial discovery. Apart from the need for new treatment options, optimal control of resistant pathogens may depend on availability of effective antibiotics.
(2) Invest in studies to improve compliance with hand hygiene – only 4 studies on this topic since 1980 per a recent Cochrane Review. Compliance is terrible, but currently the approach is to blame healthcare workers and not figure out how to help them easily clean their hands.
(3) Study universal gowning and gloving (several studies are ongoing). Dentists wear gloves with every patient, why not doctors?
(4) Undertake studies to further optimize environmental source control
(5) Actually study antimicrobial stewardship. Stop yelling at patients and clinicians to not use antimicrobials. Actually fund studies that use advertising and other other messaging techniques that have a chance to be effective.This is the most interesting online debate I've seen in ages.