Drug-resistant bacteria more common among dementia patients in nursing homes

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A recent study conducted by researchers at Rhode Island Hospital showed that strains of drug-resistant bacteria thrive in nursing home residents who have advanced dementia.

The researchers studied 152 nursing home residents who had advanced dementia for a year. The patients lived in 22 facilities throughout the Boston area. 

One in five of the patients tested positive for a drug-resistant bacteria. More than 10 percent of the drug-resistant bacteria cannot be treated with four or more antibiotic classes; and 20 percent of these residents had more than one multi-drug resistant gram-negative bacteria, such as Klebsiella pneumoniae carbapenemase (KPC) and Enterobacteriaeae (CRE).

"Nursing home residents with advanced dementia usually have an increased need for health care worker assistance, as well as frequent exposure to antibiotics," Dr. Erika D'Agata, an infectious disease physician at Rhode Island Hospital and lead author of the study, said. "This combination may be leading to a subset of vulnerable long-term care residents at high risk of both acquiring and spreading these dangerous bugs. Frequent hospitalization among these residents also provides a constant influx of drug-resistant bacteria into the hospital setting, further fostering the spread throughout the health care delivery system."

The full study was recently published online in Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology, a journal of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America.

"Ongoing efforts to curb the acquisition and spread of this bacteria among nursing homes residents is crucial since this is an issue that goes beyond just one realm of care," D'Agata said. "Health care institutions must work together to help curb the transmission of these emerging, dangerous pathogens."

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Rhode Island Hospital

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