A recent REUTERS investigation found that methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, (MRSA), is causing thousands of yearly infection-related deaths which are mostly going uncounted, hindering the nation’s ability to fight a REAL epidemic that takes an unfathomable human and financial toll all across America, from newborn infants to the elderly.
MRSA AND OTHER "SUPERBUGS" HAVE CREATED THE REAL EPIDEMIC THAT SHOULD CONCERN US ALL, BUT NO AGENCY IS TRACKING THIS AND NO ONE SEEMS TO WANT TO.
ONE-THIRD OF AMERICANS CARRY MRSA ON THEIR SKIN.
"The Epidemic the US Government Doesn't Talk About"
Sept. 7, 2016
The CDC estimates that about 23,000 people die each year from 17 types of antibiotic-resistant infections and that an additional 15,000 die from Clostridium difficile, a pathogen linked to long-term antibiotic use.
Even when recorded, tens of thousands of deaths from drug-resistant infections go uncounted because federal and state agencies are doing a poor job of tracking them.
The numbers are regularly cited in news reports and scholarly papers, but they are mostly guesswork.
Reuters analyzed the CDC’s math and found that the estimates are based on few actual reported deaths from a drug-resistant infection.
The agency leaned heavily on small samplings of infections and deaths collected from no more than 10 states in a single year, 2011. Most didn’t include populous areas such as Florida, Texas, New York City and Southern California.
THE CDC EVEN ADMITS ITS FAULTY NUMBERS WERE BASICALLY PULLED OUT OF A HAT.
Describing the estimates to Reuters, even CDC officials used words like “jerry-rig,” “ballpark figure” and “a searchlight in the dark attempt.”
Michael Craig, the CDC’s senior adviser for antibiotic resistance coordination and strategy, said the agency, pressured by Congress and the media to produce “the big number,” settled on “an impressionist painting rather than something that is much more technical.”
In a statement emailed to Reuters, CDC officials said they released the 2013 estimates report “despite its limitations because of our profound concern about the seriousness of the threat.”
The agency said it is working on improving its estimates.
The numbers of uncounted deaths from drug-resistant infections “speak to what can happen when we don’t allocate the necessary resources to bolster … our public health safety network,” said Senator Sherrod Brown.
“When we see discrepancies in reporting, are unable to finance a workforce to monitor infections, and can’t even soundly estimate the number of Americans that die from [antibiotic-resistant infections] each year, we know we have a problem.”
The Ohio Democrat recently introduced a bill that would require the CDC to collect more and better data on superbug infections and death rates.
In the absence of a unified national surveillance system, the onus of monitoring drug-resistant infections and related deaths falls on the states.
A Reuters survey of the health departments of all 50 states and the District of Columbia found wide variations in how they track seven leading “superbug” infections – if they do so at all.
Only 17 states require notification of C. difficile infections, for example, while just 26 states and Washington, D.C., do the same for MRSA.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the go-to national public health monitor, and state health departments [CLAIM TO] lack the political, legal and financial wherewithal to impose rigorous surveillance.
[MY NOTE: THEY'RE SURE TRACKING EVERY POSSIBLE CASE OF "ZIKA" AND SEEM TO HAVE PLENTY OF FUNDING FOR THAT, EVEN THOUGH IT HASN'T KILLED ANYONE AND HAS NOT BEEN PROVEN TO EVEN BE THE REAL CAUSE OF MICROCEPHALY.
MAYBE THE CDC DOESN'T WANT TO SHOW NUMBERS FOR MRSA BECAUSE OF THE VERY LEGALITY THING THAT REUTERS MENTIONED?
MAYBE THEY ARE COMPLICIT IN THE NATIONAL COVER-UP SO HOSPITALS DON'T GET SUED OUT OF EXISTENCE?]
Why isn't the CDC or any government agency tracking MRSA deaths?
Reuters suggests one of the main reasons may be LEGAL LIABILITY, the reality that citing MRSA as cause of death could be used to sue hospitals in which patients are getting these infections.
[ANY HOSPITAL WITH A KNOWN AND PUBLISHED LARGE NUMBER OF MRSA INFECTIONS WOULD HAVE TO SHUT DOWN SECTIONS OF THE HOSPITALS WHERE THE MRSA INFECTIONS WERE KNOWN TO HAVE BEEN ACQUIRED....OR, IN SOME CASES, MIGHT HAVE TO SHUT DOWN THE HOSPITAL ENTIRELY.
IF MANY CASES WERE REPORTED, A HOSPITAL MIGHT ALSO LOSE ITS "ACCREDITATION".
IT WOULD LOSE INSURANCE PAYMENTS.
EITHER WAY, IT WOULD MEAN A HUGE LOSS OF REVENUE AND A LOSS OF PATIENT TRUST.
AFTER ALL, WHY GO TO A HOSPITAL WITH A LARGE OUTBREAK OF MRSA WHEN OTHER HOSPITALS IN THE AREA REPORT NONE OR FEWER CASES?
IT IS MEDICALLY UNETHICAL NOT TO INFORM SURVIVORS OF THE REAL CAUSE OF THEIR LOVED-ONES DEATHS.]
NEWBORNS AT HIGH RISK
Josiah Cooper-Pope, born 15 weeks premature, did fine in the neonatal intensive care unit for the first 10 days of his life.
Then, suddenly, his tiny body started to swell. Overnight, he grew so distended that his skin split.
His mother, Shala Bowser, said nurses at Chippenham Hospital in Richmond, Virginia, told her that Josiah had an infection and that she should prepare for the worst.
On Sept. 2, 2010, she was allowed to hold him for the first and last time as he took his final breath. He was 17 days old.
What no one at the hospital told Bowser was that her newborn was the fourth baby in the neonatal unit to catch the same infection, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, better-known as MRSA.
It would sicken eight more, records show – nearly every baby in the unit – before the outbreak had run its course.
The shock of her son’s death came back to her when, after being contacted by Reuters earlier this year about the outbreak, Bowser went to Virginia’s Division of Vital Records to get a copy of Josiah’s death certificate.
The cause of death: “Sepsis due to (or as a consequence of): Prematurity.”
Sepsis is a complication of infection, but there was no mention of MRSA.
“My heart hurts,” Bowser said, sobbing. “I saw what this did to him. And then they just threw a bunch of words on the death certificate.”
THE 'PRACTICE' OF NOT CITING MRSA AS CAUSE OF DEATH IS RAMPANT, BLATANT.
According to their death certificates, Emma Grace Breaux died at age 3 from complications of the flu;
Joshua Nahum died at age 27 from complications related to a skydiving accident;
and Dan Greulich succumbed to cardiac arrhythmia at age 64 after a combined kidney and liver transplant.
THE ACTUAL CAUSE OF DEATH IN EACH CASE WAS DRUG-RESISTANT BACTERIAL INFECTION.
In each case – and in others Reuters found – death resulted from a drug-resistant bacterial infection contracted while the patients were receiving hospital care, medical records show.
Their death certificates omit any mention of the infections.
As a result, they "miss" people like Natalie Silva of El Paso, Texas, who contracted a MRSA (pronounced MER-suh) infection after giving birth.
She died from infection-related complications nearly a year later, at age 23.
Silva’s sisters fought a successful battle to get the hospital to cite MRSA on her death certificate.
Still, her death went uncounted: The Texas health department doesn’t track deaths like hers from antibiotic-resistant infections, and neither does the CDC.
TO STOP ANY EPIDEMIC ONE MUST FIRST IDENTIFY WHERE THAT EPIDEMIC IS AND HOW IT'S BEING SPREAD!
THE CDC AND STATE HEALTH DEPARTMENTS DO NOT DO THIS.
As America learned in the battle against HIV/AIDS, beating back a dangerous infectious disease requires an accurate count that shows where and when infections and deaths are occurring and who is most at risk. Doing so allows public health agencies to quickly allocate money and manpower where they are needed.
But the United States hasn’t taken the basic steps needed to track drug-resistant infections.
“You need to know how many people are dying of a disease,” said Ramanan Laxminarayan, director of the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy, a Washington-based health policy research organization. “For better or worse, that’s an indicator of how serious it is.”
Drug-resistant infections are left off death certificates for several reasons.
~ Doctors and other clinicians get little training in how to fill out the forms.
~ Some don’t want to wait the several days it can take for laboratory confirmation of an infection.
~And an infection’s role in a patient’s death may be obscured by other serious medical conditions.
BUT IS THE MAIN REASON THIS?
There’s also a powerful incentive not to mention a hospital-acquired infection: Counting deaths is tantamount to documenting your own failures. By acknowledging such infections, hospitals and medical professionals risk potentially costly legal liability, loss of insurance reimbursements and public-relations damage.
SOME CLAIM THEY DIDN'T REALIZE THE IMPORTANCE OF CITING MRSA CASES.
HOW COULD THEY NOT SEE IT AS IMPORTANT?
Doctors and other clinicians also may simply not understand the importance of recording the infections.
Sandy Tarant, the doctor who signed Josiah Cooper-Pope’s death certificate, told Reuters that he thought “it didn’t matter” whether he cited a MRSA infection.
Legally, he’s right.
Most states don’t require doctors to specify whether MRSA was a FACTOR in a death.
Washington and Illinois are exceptions.
EVEN WHEN A DOCTOR PURPOSELY LISTS CAUSE OF DEATH WRONGLY, HARDLY ANY DOCTORS ARE PUNISHED.
State laws govern how death certificates are filled out.
Most use a model law that mandates financial penalties for anyone who deliberately makes a false statement on the document, said Patricia Potrzebowski, director of the National Association for Public Health Statistics and Information Systems.
The penalties are often small and rarely enforced, she said.
IF ANY 'AVERAGE CITIZEN' FALSELY REPORTED THE CAUSE OF DEATH OF ANYONE, WHAT PUNISHMENT WOULD THAT AVERAGE CITIZEN FACE?
IF "AVERAGE CITIZEN", SAY, REPORTED THAT A NEIGHBOR FELL OFF A ROOF AND DIED BUT THE REAL CAUSE OF DEATH WAS THAT THE NEIGHBOR WAS A VICTIM OF "FOUL PLAY", WHAT COURT IN THE NATION WOULD NOT SEND THAT LIAR TO JAIL WHEN THE TRUTH CAME OUT?
WHY SHOULD LYING DOCTORS BE ABLE TO LIE WITHOUT CONSEQUENCE?
Twenty-four states and the District of Columbia – an area comprising 3 of every 5 Americans – said they do not regularly track deaths due to antibiotic-resistant infections. In contrast, all 50 states require reporting of AIDS-related deaths. Deaths from hepatitis C and tuberculosis are also closely tracked.
States that said they do track deaths generally do so for only a few types of drug-resistant infections and not consistently.
In the survey, they only reported a combined total of about 3,300 MRSA deaths from 2003 to 2014.
That’s a tiny fraction of the actual toll:
A Reuters analysis of death certificates found that nationwide, drug-resistant infections were mentioned as contributing to or causing the deaths of more than 180,000 people during the same period.
To conduct the analysis, Reuters worked with the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics’ Division of Vital Statistics to search text descriptions on death certificates to identify relevant deaths.
Among the states that don’t require reporting of superbug deaths is California, the nation’s most populous state.
The Reuters analysis identified more than 20,000 deaths in California linked to drug-resistant infections during the 12-year period, the most of any state.
A health department spokeswoman said the state legislature authorized the department to be notified of infections, but not deaths.
Tennessee doesn’t require notification of deaths, either.
The Reuters analysis found more than 5,500 deaths linked to superbugs there, more than half of them MRSA-related.
“We know we have a problem with MRSA in Tennessee,” said Marion Kainer, the state’s director of antimicrobial resistance programs. Requiring hospitals to report deaths is more than the department can take on right now, she said.
“We have a significant problem getting clinicians to report just the disease,” she said. “It’s grossly under-reported.”
The totals from the Reuters analysis also indicate that the problem is getting worse nationwide, as the number of deaths from drug-resistant infections more than doubled from 8,600 in 2003 to about 16,700 in 2014.
Death certificates aren’t a perfect measure. They can be wrong:
Cause of death often is a judgment call by clinicians, who may blame a drug-resistant infection in error.
More likely, they undercount drug-resistant deaths, as cases like that of Josiah Cooper-Pope show. Just how far under is impossible to know.
But there are clues: Connecticut, with a grant from the CDC, is the only state that closely monitors MRSA deaths. It logged 2,084 deaths from drug-resistant infections from 2003 to 2014, all but 10 from MRSA.
That’s nearly twice the number of deaths from MRSA in the state that Reuters found in its death certificate analysis.
One reason for the disparity is that the state’s count includes anyone who died with MRSA, even if it wasn’t the cause of death, said Dr Matthew L. Cartter, Connecticut’s epidemiologist.
He also said death certificates may undercount MRSA deaths because the physician may cite a general infection-related condition – death due to sepsis, for example – without mentioning the actual bacteria involved, or merely describe the mechanics of death, such as organ failure or cardiac arrest.
For many victims’ relatives interviewed by Reuters, the death certificate held special significance.
They had watched an infection squeeze the life out of a loved one, often over several months and in gruesome ways.
To find no official record of that on the death certificate came as a shock.
It was as if the killer got away.
AS IF THE KILLER GOT AWAY: STORIES OF THE UNCOUNTED
Antibiotic-resistant bacteria have been around nearly as long as antibiotics. Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin, the first modern antibiotic, in 1928, saving millions of lives from infections that just a few years earlier would have been fatal. By 1940, researchers were reporting that bacteria had already developed resistance to the drug.
Modern science became locked in a war of one-upmanship with the microbial world. Researchers would develop a class of drugs to replace those that were becoming ineffective, and soon enough, bacteria would begin showing resistance to the new drugs – a problem worsened by widespread overprescription of antibiotics and their overuse in farm animals.
By the 1990s, drug-resistant infections had reached crisis proportions. Advances in medicine have been, paradoxically, a big reason for the worsening epidemic
More people than ever are living with weak immunity: premature infants, the elderly, and people with cancer, HIV and other illnesses that were once fatal but are now often chronic conditions. That’s also why superbugs most often occur in hospitals, nursing homes and other healthcare facilities – places where susceptible populations are concentrated.
In 2001, a task force led by the CDC, the Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health declared antibiotic-resistant infections to be a grave public health threat and issued an action plan to tame the problem. The group’s recommendations included creating a national surveillance plan and speeding development of new antibiotics.
Yet not a single new class of antibiotics has been approved for medical use since 1987. Despite years of efforts to educate healthcare workers about infection control, multiple studies show that many still routinely flout even basic preventive measures, like hand-washing.
While the types of bacteria showing drug resistance have multiplied, the federal government requires hospitals to report infections for only two of them, MRSA bacteremia, or blood infection, and C. difficile. It requires limited reports on the others and relies on the states to fill in the gaps.
In 2014, the administration of President Barack Obama issued a new national action plan to combat antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Congress followed last year with a $160 million increase in the CDC’s budget to bolster research, drug development and surveillance of superbugs by the states.
But as Reuters found, surveillance carried out by the states can come up against strong institutional resistance and laws that shield the healthcare industry.
Under Virginia law, Chippenham Hospital should have reported its 2010 MRSA outbreak to the state Department of Health when the third baby in the neonatal intensive care unit tested positive for the bug, health department officials said.
That was four days before newborn Josiah Cooper-Pope fell ill.
Instead, according to Virginia Health Department records and interviews with department officials, the hospital didn’t notify public health officials until nearly every baby in the unit had been infected – and then only by mail.
By that time, Josiah had been dead two weeks and another baby was in critical condition with a MRSA infection.
After persuading the hospital to temporarily close the unit and bringing the outbreak under control, Health Department investigators found that Chippenham hadn’t taken basic steps to prevent MRSA’s spread, such as training staff, scrubbing furniture and computers, and testing all infants in the nursery when the infection first surfaced.
CAN WE SEE THAT MONEY AND KEEPING THIS OUTBREAK OUT OF THE NEWS WAS OBVIOUSLY MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE LIVES OF BABIES IN THIS CASE?
CAN WE SEE THAT THIS EPIDEMIC IS LARGELY PREVENTABLE BUT NOTING OF SIGNIFICANCE IS BEING DONE TO STOP IT, REPORT IT IN ALL MAINSTREAM MEDIA AND THAT MOST OF THESE THOUSANDS OF DEATHS MIGHT HAVE BEEN PREVENTED HAD THE CDC AND HEALTH DEPARTMENTS BEEN AS CONCERNED, AS FRANTIC ABOUT MRSA AND OTHER RESISTANT BACTERIAL DISEASE AS THEY HAVE BEEN ABOUT STUPID "ZIKA"?
THE REUTERS REPORT IS EXHAUSTIVELY RESEARCHED AND IMPECCABLY DOCUMENTED.
YOU WILL DO WELL TO READ IT ALL AND TO PASS IT ON TO ALL WHOM YOU CARE FOR.
WE ARE ON OUR OWN IN AMERICA WHEN IT COMES TO ANY OF OUR "PROTECTIVE" AGENCIES ACTUALLY PROTECTING US.
AS THE TEA ROOM HAS NOTED MANY TIMES, IT IS AS THOUGH OUR OWN GOVERNMENT WANTS TO SEE HIGH DEATH RATES....THAT OLD "POPULATION REDUCTION" IDEOLOGY SEEMS TO BE WHAT'S CAUSING THE FEDERAL AGENCIES TO IGNORE ALL THE MANY HAZARDS TO AMERICANS' HEALTH.
WE ARE TRULY ON OUR OWN SO WE MUST STAY INFORMED AND HELP INFORM OTHERS.
BEFORE GOING INTO ANY HOSPITAL AS A PATIENT, DEMAND TO KNOW WHAT THEIR RATE OF ANTIBIOTIC-RESISTANT INFECTIONS ARE BECAUSE MRSA IS ONLY ONE KILLER OF MANY THAT ONE CAN ACQUIRE IN EVERY HOSPITAL IN AMERICA.
IF NO ONE CAN OR WILL TELL YOU AND SHOW PROOF, FIND ANOTHER HOSPITAL.
NEVER LET ANYONE TREAT YOU WHILE IN THE HOSPITAL OR HAND YOU FOOD OR DRINK WHO HAS DONE RIGOROUS HAND-WASHING.
EVEN WHEN AN EMPLOYEE DONS GLOVES ON ENTERING THE ROOM, THOSE GLOVES CAN BE CONTAMINATED BY THE VERY HANDS THEY COVER IN THE PROCESS OF PUTTING THEM ON.
BE JUST AS CAUTIOUS OF VISITORS.
IF YOU'RE TOLD THAT YOU HAVE OR A LOVED ONE HAS SUCH AN INFECTION, DEMAND TO KNOW THE SPECIFICS AND WHAT IS BEING DONE TO OVERCOME THE BACTERIA.
NEVER ALLOW A CAUSE OF DEATH TO BE NAMED, IF A LOVED ONE PASSES AWAY, WHICH IS NOT WHAT CAUSED THAT DEATH.
CONTACT YOUR ELECTED OFFICIALS, STATE HEALTH DEPARTMENT, THE CDC AND DEMAND THAT DILIGENT AND EXTENSIVE RECORDS ME KEPT ABOUT THIS EPIDEMIC.
HOSPITALS, PHYSICIANS AND CORONERS MUST DOCUMENT ALL CASES IF WE ARE TO HAVE ANY HOPE OF STOPPING THIS.
MAY YOU ALL BE WELL.