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Hospitals Can Be Deadly?

Hospitals Can Be Deadly?

Just seventeen days after the surgery, the 67-year-old nurse, Ruth Burns, was dead.

Burns had developed meningitis a result of Acinetobacter baumannii, a bug that preys on the weak in hospitals. This bacteria is a multi-drug-resistant strain. The dangerous superbug better known, as MRSA, caused a stir at Infectious Diseases Society of America when they warned that drug-resistant strains of Acinetobacter baumannii and two other microbes — Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Klebsiella pneumoniae — could soon produce a toll to rival MRSA’s.

The three bugs are especially hard to fight because they are wrapped in a double membrane and harbor enzymes that chew up many antibiotics. As dangerous as MRSA is, some antibiotics can still treat it, and more are in development, experts say.

But the drugs once used to treat gram-negative bacteria are becoming ineffective, and finding effective new ones is especially challenging.

“We’re literally running out of drugs to treat gram-negatives,” said Dr. Brad Spellberg, an infectious disease specialist at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. “And there is nothing in the pipeline right now.”

So next time you go in for a procedure at the hospital, be afraid, be very afraid!

Next: Who’s to Blame for MRSA? >>

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