Chinese carbapenamases: Fly like an eagle

I blogged on mcr-1 (colistin resistance) in China last week, to share the latest reassuring data. Well, the paper on which todays’ blog is printed will be used to wrap tomorrows’ market fish (typical Dutch expression). Nicolle Stoesser (Oxford) send me the latest news, coming from a Nature Microbiology study providing evidence for the potential of spread of carbapenamases by flies and birds. Not reassuring at all, and potentially with major consequences. Continue reading

Colistin resistance and mortality


My previous blog on “mcr-1 and the end of the world” evoked responses on the important effects of colistin resistance on patient outcome, referring to a new study in CID with the following abstract closure: “Importantly, mortality was increased in patients with colistin-resistant isolates.” The wording is correct, but I’m afraid that it will be interpreted incorrectly. Continue reading

Mcr-1 and the end of the world

If you read this, you may well be concerned about antibiotic resistance and consider reducing the burden of disease caused by AMR as one of your professional goals. Broad attention helps us to fight the problem: it creates awareness and funds for research. So, how do we cope with data that may jeopardize these ambitions (raising awareness fort he problem AMR)? Here is the eaxmple of mcr-1. Continue reading

ESBL on meat: be aware of filet Americain

Tabloids have repeatedly warned the people for superbugs on chicken meat, after researchers had convincingly shown that the chicken filets that we buy are contaminated with ESBL-producing bacteria, mainly E. coli. Widely considered a public health threat, it was a decisive argument to insist on reductions in antibiotic use in the agricultural industry in the Netherlands. Yet, whether meat contamination constitutes a risk for human health is unknown. This was now quantified, with surprising results. Continue reading

Attacking the fecal veneer*

What an excellent start of 2017. A great study from the USA today in Lancet: In a pragmatic cluster-randomized crossover study they tested 4 patient room cleaning strategies on the effectiveness to reduce acquisition with relevant bacteria for the incoming patients. The conclusion states that “enhanced terminal room disinfection decreases the risk of pathogen acquisition.” Yet, this paper is so “data-dense” that you must read the methods (and supplements) to get the picture. In one shot: Not for C. diff, may be for MRSA and yes for VRE. Continue reading

Good in 2017: preprint publishing

My blog on the “disease called peer review” (Dec 12th) evoked many comments (including from some journal editors), and these directed me to the concept of preprint publishing. Physicists started this 25 years ago, and were followed by mathematicians, computer scientists, and more recently by biologists. It is not yet widely known or practiced in the medical sciences. At least I was barely familiar with it, but I can only admit that this may well help to cure the “disease called peer review“ and H-indexitis. Continue reading

The day after the WIP died

Yesterday, Andreas Voss heartbreakingly described the end of the Workinggroup Infection Prevention (WIP) in the Netherlands. Yet, the end of the WIP is not the end of the Netherlands. The WIP enormously contributed to the success of Dutch infection control and then ran towards it’s own grave, where many now cry (some like a crocodile).

In the final moments before death, nobody was willing to rescue the patient. What went wrong? The government didn’t want to pay for infection prevention guidelines, as they may feared they would then need to pay for all guideline. More fascinating is that the beneficiaries of succesfull infection control, hospitals, didn’t want to pay either. Either they take infection control for granted or were no longer pleased with these guidelines.

Now, let’s look at the crime scene. The WIP created 136 guidelines! You name it, we have a guideline for it. Haircutters in the hospital? Hospital beds? We have it. All these guidelines were drafted by professionals with the best intentions, mostly for free and in absence of convincing scientific evidence for specific recommendations. No problem, as long as we can use them as “best practices” or recent updates for practitioners.

But the world changed. For every unexpected event in the healthcare system someone is to be blamed, for instance the Health Inspectorate, as they should reassure good care. So, they think: “I don’t wanna be blamed. How can we control that system? Wait a minute, they have guidelines and we just check whether they adhere to their own guidelines”. An understandable point of view.

So, we (as healthcare professionals) are now confronted with “sometimes-not-so-usefull-guidelines” to which we should adhere. As long as we can tick the box of adherence we’re safe. For instance, achieving adherence to the guideline of airway management in ORs has resulted in enormous financial investments for hospitals, without any evidence that it increased patient safety.

The death of the WIP can be used to break this chain. Let’s go back to a few multidisciplinary guidelines on things we really agree on: WIP2.0. Maintaining these guidelines will not be expensive (and can easily be covered by a professional society). And where evidence is lacking, professionals rely on their knowledge and experience, share on best practices and talk to each other when in doubt or need of support.