Authors: Mary Hayden MD and William Trick MD, Joint Principal Investigators, Chicago Prevention and Intervention Epicenter at Rush University Medical Center and Cook County Health and Hospitals System

For more than 20 years, our colleagues in Chicago and we have been working to combat antibiotic resistance in healthcare settings. These efforts have yielded several wins; for example, a bundled prevention package reduced bloodstream infections due to carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) by 56%. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) created a national CRE prevention toolkit  [PDF – 2.83 MB] to help more hospitals adopt this proven approach. Still, more can be done to prevent infections and eliminate spread of antibiotic resistant germs.

Thanks to an award of $26 million by the CDC, five academic medical centers now have the incredible opportunity to identify new ways to help doctors and nurses better protect their patients from high-risk infectious diseases and antibiotic-resistant germs.

Our Epicenter, the Chicago Prevention and Intervention Epicenter at Rush University Medical Center and Cook County Health and Hospitals System, is one of the research centers that will have more resources than ever before to increase the scope of its work, to better understand antibiotic resistant organisms, apply what we have already learned and introduce new interventions to save lives from potentially deadly pathogens.

We have been collaborating with CDC for decades and making steady progress, but now, we have the resources to do so much more and to really sink our teeth into exciting work – to tackle much bigger projects with the primary goal being the prevention of healthcare-associated infections and control of drug-resistant organisms.

Let me give you some concrete examples of the type of work we are planning to undertake and what it will mean from a public health standpoint:

  • Identifying markers in the microbiome of patients that would identify them as high risk for infection and develop the right interventions to protect those patients from deadly bacteria
  • Studying the effectiveness of chlorhexidine gluconate (CHG) bathing in the fight against MDROs
  • Tracking the transmission of antibiotic-resistant germs, including CRE and alerting healthcare facilities when patients are admitted with CRE so that a proper course of action can be taken immediately
  • Using advanced molecular diagnostics such as whole genomic sequencing to study transmission of CRE within and between healthcare facilities in a region
  • Social network analysis – developing methods to identify where bugs are and see where they are going as patients move from one healthcare facility to another
  • Evaluating the behavior of physicians around prescribing antibiotics and supporting them in making judicious decisions on the appropriate use of antibiotics

We are fortunate to have a dedicated network of scientists. By coupling frontline healthcare practice with public health, we are improving the quality of healthcare in America and further reducing the threat of superbugs.

For more information about this Epicenter’s work or the authors, please visit:

Posted on by CDC’s Safe Healthcare Blog

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