WASHINGTON- Simple coordination between hospitals, nursing homes and health authorities could slash the number of drug-resistant "superbug" infections and save thousands of US lives, experts said Tuesday.
Hospitals and nursing homes strive to control infections but rarely report to one another when a patient being transferred is carrying antibiotic-resistant bacteria, greatly increasing the risk of spreading infections, said a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report.
"Antibiotic-resistant infections in health care settings are a growing threat in the United States, killing thousands and thousands of people each year," said CDC Director Tom Frieden.
"We can dramatically reduce these infections if health care facilities, nursing homes, and public health departments work together to improve antibiotic use and infection control so patients are protected." Antibiotic-resistant germs - those that no longer respond to the drugs designed to kill them - cause more than two million illnesses and at least 23,000 deaths each year in the United States, says the CDC, the leading national public health institute in the US.
With better coordination, says the CDC, the United States could reduce such potentially deadly infections by 70 percent and save 37,000 lives over five years.
Without it, cases will keep growing, it warned, demanding an urgent improvement.
Other ways health facilities can better work together include sharing data about antibiotic resistance, the CDC said.
"We must transform our public health response to turn the tide. The coordinated response this Vital Signs report describes is a forward-looking approach," said Beth Bell, director of CDC's National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases.
The fight against drug-resistant "superbugs" is one of President Barack Obama's major public health priorities.