The following is a guest post from Jo of Head Nurse, who calls it "a simple guide to antibiotic resistance for the liberal arts major."

Source: meg_nicol/Flickr

Are surgical masks effective enough to prevent those infected with the flu from transmitting it to others? Do the masks provide wearers with sufficient protection against infection?

Source: pfala

The current recession has been one of the worst economic slumps in recent memory, and hospitals have been not been immune from the slump. Like many businesses today, hospitals have been cutting fixed costs as deeply as they can, and one of the casualties of this cost cutting is infection control, says a recent study from the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC).

Here's another one to add to the tally of drawbacks of life-saving antibiotics: according to a recent article in the American Journal of Infection Control, the burden of Clostridium difficile (C. diff) in US health settings is significantly higher than previously estimated. "Thirteen in every 1,000 inpatients has C. diff -- 20 times more than previous estimates" (see attached image for variance in prevelence by state).

Would hospitals with relatively poor infection control practices benefit from knowing that their operations might be subject to inspection at any time? Washington state seems to think so and will begin conducting surprise inspections at Washington hospitals at least once every 18 months to check on compliance with infection control standards and other patient safety guidelines.

We're in Atlanta this weekend, where Extending the Cure and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Get Smart for Healthcare campaign are hosting a meeting on inpatient antimicrobial use.

The goal is optimizing antibiotic use in health care facilities so that susceptible bugs don't become resistant.

About 2 in 3 Medicare beneficiaries who were discharged into the community following hospitalization in 2003 or 2004 were rehospitalized or died within a year, according to a recent New England Journal of Medicine article. Only 10% of the rehospitalizations were estimated to have been planned. This highlights the extent to which patients who enter the healthcare system feed back into it.

On Wednesday the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, HHS and Education held a hearing on a National Strategy to Reduce Healthcare Associated Infections. Witnesses included the Directors of the CDC, and AHRQ, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health of HHS, a representative for the American Hosptal Association, representative for the New York State Department of Health, and Peter Pronovost of Johns Hopkins (and checklist fame).

We recently launched the Global Antibiotic Resistance Partnership (GARP) to extend the work of Extending the Cure to five developing countries - China, India, Kenya, South Africa and Vietnam.  Although these countries do not use antibiotics at nearly the intensity that one sees in the United States, they already face high levels of resistance, particularly in hospital-acquired infections. 

Jasper Palmer is a patient escort who had a good idea.

Michael Bennett and his father Mark Bennett were an exceptionally close father and son. Mark was a decorated WWII combat veteran, former actor and stockbroker, who lived near his family in Baltimore. He spent years enjoying the company of his son and five grandchildren, but in February of 2004 the robustly viable senior developed a flu virus. Worried that the flu was developing into pneumonia, Michael took his father to the hospital, where he showed immediate improvement – they expected a short hospital stay.

In March of 1978 a patient was admitted to the University of Virginia (UVA) Medical Center who was infected with MRSA, a type of antibiotic-resistant staph.