VRE Policy Changes (April 2015)
What is Vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE)?
All people are carriers of many different types of bacteria. Normally bacteria living on our bodies keep us healthy, but on occasion we can be carriers of harmful bacteria. VRE is a germ/bacteria that lives in the gut of a small number of people, and it can be harmful if it causes an infection. Although the risk of infection with VRE is low and VRE is quite resistant to antibiotics, there are now antibiotics available to treat a VRE infection.
How has Bruyère cared for patients with VRE previously?
Up until recently, Bruyère had been testing patients when admitted to the hospital to check if they have VRE in their gut. If a patient was identified as a carrier of the VRE germ, he/she was placed on contact precautions and the healthcare provider always wore gloves and sometimes a yellow gown when providing care for the patient.
Why is Bruyère changing how they care for patients with VRE?
Bruyère has been actively controlling VRE for over 15 years and we have not seen any worrisome trends or increases in serious infections caused by this germ. VRE causes very few infections in patients, mostly because VRE is not very good at causing infections when compared to other germs. When VRE was first discovered, there was a fear that it might pass on its antibiotic resistance abilities to other more aggressive bacteria; fortunately, we now know that this almost never happens.
Therefore, along with many other hospitals nationally, provincially and regionally, we will no longer consider VRE to be a “superbug”.
Are we putting patients at risk by stopping surveillance and contact precautions for VRE?
The risk of us stopping VRE control is very small. The benefit to stopping is much greater. We will reinvest our resources into enhancing excellent infection prevention and control standards in the hospital for all patients, which will discourage infections from occurring.
What if we see an increase in VRE in the hospital?
How will we know if we are harming people? We will continue to track VRE infections and treat them quickly and appropriately. If we see a concerning trend of increased infections, we will take swift and appropriate action to prevent further infections.
Adapted from The Ottawa Hospital