What is CRE?

Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, or more commonly CRE, is a "superbug" that has been spreading through different hospitals in California. As the name implies, CRE are resistant to carbapenem, which are a class of highly-effective antibiotics. In fact, carbapenem are often the last line of defense because they are such powerful drugs.

What makes CRE so resistant to antibiotics is often the enzyme they produce. This enzyme, called Klebsiella pneumoniae carbapenemase (or KPC), breaks down the carbapenem antibiotic, thus rendering it all but useless. Outside of the United States, CRE have been known to produce other enzymes as well that break down medicine.

CRE was initially a small outbreak that started in three hospitals in California: University of California Los Angeles, Huntington Memorial Hospital and Cedars Sinai Medical Center. Surgeons were performing endoscopic surgeries with endoscopes and duodenoscopes, not knowing that they were infected with CRE. They followed the set guidelines from the CDC in cleaning them, but it wasn’t enough.

Due to the nature of the germs, they were not killed by normal antibiotics and other cleaning processes. The infection has spread, as the use of the scopes has increased. It can now be found in hospitals across 42 states. You can find out more about the origins and spread of CRE here.


The Basics of CRE

CRE are a class of germs that usually reside in the gut. These include E. coli and Klebsiella pneumonia. Most often, these germs are killed through sanitation or, if a person is already infected, with antibiotics. Years and years of this practice has caused these germs to develop survival mechanisms. Those that did not are more easily killed off. What’s left in the gene pool are what’s known as "superbugs".

These germs are much harder to kill. They have effective defense systems against our usual weapons against them. As such, infections can be highly dangerous. In fact, the chances of death after being infected is about 50 percent. The bacteria overwhelm the body, and it can kill in a matter of weeks --- or even days.

Doctor and Patient

There's Good News

If you are a relatively healthy person, you chances for infection are very low. A healthy immune system can usually fight off these infections with ease, even if it needs a little help from medicine. However, those who are chronically ill have a much higher chance of being infected by CRE.

The reason for this is two-fold. One, a weaker immune system finds it much harder to fight infections on its own. When CRE are introduced to the body, antibiotics are often needed --- but they are rendered ineffective by KPC. Second, CRE are spread from one host to another through contact and through medical equipment. This can be disastrous for the chronically ill, who may spend a good amount of time around other sick people in hospitals.

The Spread of CRE

As mentioned above, one of the most common ways CRE are spread is through medical procedures. For instance, the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles utilized duodenoscopes, which is a scope used to examine the gastrointestinal system. Even after proper sanitation, CRE still remained on the duodenoscopes. These scopes were then used on other patients, spreading the infection. CRE can also be spread through contact with bodily fluids and stool.

While this was the first major outbreak, CRE have been found in at least 42 states. At least 4 percent of all hospitals have at least one patient with a CRE infection, and nearly 20 percent of long-term acute care hospitals do. As such, it has been declared an urgent health threat by the Centers for Disease Control.

Free Resources

Being infected with CRE can be a devastating diagnosis. It is very difficult to treat, as it is resistant to many antibiotics. In addition, it is a relatively new issue in the medical community, so alternative treatments are not very abundant. At the end of the day, it may seem like you are facing this alone.

However, there are many resources on the internet that offer an ample amount of information and support for those who have been infected or may be at risk. These include different information pages from the CDC and other organizations and other resources you may find useful.


Don’t Face It Alone

As you can clearly see, CRE can be a devastating infection for you and/or your loved ones. More often than not, it happens due to a mistake made by the medical staff in charge of treatment. If you or a loved one has been affected by CRE, call the Ernst Law Group today. We have decades of combined experience defending victims of medical malpractice and wrongful deal. Your initial consultation is free. Call now.

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At Ernst Law Group, we have decades of combined experience handling medical malpractice and even wrongful death cases. We know how difficult this time can be, and we want to make it as easy and simple as possible for you and your loved ones to get the representation you deserve. The Ernst Law Group is prepared to take on lawsuits on behalf of CRE victims and their families, as we are currently accepting new cases. Call today for a free consultation.

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