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Carbapenem-resistant organisms

Carbapenem-resistant organisms are bacteria which live harmlessly inside in the bowel and, except for their resistance to antibiotics, are identical to our normal gut bacteria.  

People who have acquired it usually just "carry" it in their gut and suffer no consequences. However, if these people develop an infection for some reason then the carbapenem-resistant organisms may be involved. The main risk is to vulnerable patients while they are in hospital.

There are very few antibiotics which can treat infections with carbapenem-resistant organisms and in extreme cases no antibiotics are effective.  Patients infected with CROs need to treated with special, reserve antibiotics.

Carbapenem-resistant organisms are common in many overseas countries but unusual in the UK.  Widespread use of antibiotics has caused the development of resistant bacteria such as carbapenem-resistant organisms. They can spread between people through direct contact or by touching items or surfaces that the carrier may have touched such as bed rails, toilets or equipment. New isolates of the bacteria are usually associated with overseas travel.

The threat from CROs has been known since at least 2004.  As the threat of highly drug-resistant organisms continues to increase around the world, the ability to prevent the spread of these bacteria becomes more vital.  We all have a role to play in preventing the spread of organisms like this.  Hand hygiene by both staff and patients is an essential part of infection prevention.  Washing hands and using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer in a health care setting is one of the most effective interventions to stop the spread of many infectious diseases.

We proactively screen all patients for CRO if they have been a patient in hospital outside Leicestershire at any point in the previous 12 months. They will be treated in bays whilst we await the results of their screening test.

For any patients that have been treated in hospital outside of the UK are screened and kept in a single room until the screening test results give them the all clear.

This approach goes beyond the national guidance published by Public Health England in 2014 (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/carbapenemase-producing-enterobacteriaceae-early-detection-management-and-control-toolkit-for-acute-trusts )

For Patient information leaflet please click here