Communication between healthcare facilities key to outbreak prevention

Communication breakdowns between healthcare facilities during patient transfers can facilitate the spread of opportunistic pathogens, according to a study published in Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology.

For the study, researchers analyzed medical and laboratory records for patients at multiple healthcare facilities in Oregon from 2012 to 2014. The team identified 21 linked infections of Acinetobacter baumannii. Previous studies have categorized the bacteria as primary contributors to carbapenem-resistant gram-negative infections in the United States.

Sixteen of the bacterial isolates previously extracted from patients and examined in the study contained a gene responsible for carbapenem resistance. After reviewing patient transfer data, researchers found this information wasn't communicated between facilities, which contributed to the further spread of the pathogen.

"It just makes sense that you would want to alert a receiving facility if patients have a specific drug-resistant organism," said Jon Furuno, PhD, associate professor in the college of pharmacy at Oregon State University in Corvallis and one of the study's authors. "The discharging facility needs to include that information with the discharge summary or somewhere on the chart, and the receiving facility needs to know where to look for it."

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