Patient safety alert on addressing rising trends and outbreaks in carbapenemase-producing Enterobacteriaceae

An NHS England stage-two ‘resource’ patient safety alert has been issued today (6 March 2014) to signpost providers of NHS care to resources developed to prevent the spread of carbapenemase-producing Enterobacteriaceae.

Enterobacteriaceae are a large family of bacteria that usually live harmlessly in the gut of all humans and animals, but, in the wrong place, can cause serious infections. Worldwide, a small but increasing number of strains of Enterobacteriaceae have become resistant to carbapenem antibiotics, which have been defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as critically important antibiotics.

Inadequate measures to prevent and control transmission can have serious consequences for both patients; who may require more complex treatment to manage their infection; and hospitals in terms of ward closures and protracted patient stays.

This patient safety alert brings this significant infection prevention and control challenge to the attention of both NHS acute trusts and private hospitals providing NHS funded care. The alert signposts care providers to a toolkit developed by Public Health England (PHE) to support the NHS in both controlling existing transmission problems and preventing the further spread of infection.

Dr Mike Durkin, NHS England Director of Patient Safety, said: “This alert has been issued in partnership with Public Health England to ensure we get crucial resources and guidance to staff working on the frontline, so they can quickly be adopted and put into practice to control and prevent infection. Patient safety alerts are a crucial part of our work to rapidly alert the healthcare system to risks and to provide guidance on preventing potential incidents that may lead to harm or death.”

You can view the full Patient safety alert on addressing rising trends and outbreaks in carbapenemase-producing Enterobacteriaceae here.

The NHS England National Patient Safety Alerting System issues alerts through a three stage system. The three stages of alert are; Stage One Alert: Warning; Stage Two Alert: Resource; and Stage Three Alert: Directive. For this alert there was no previous Stage One Alert: Warning, as the alert is both raising awareness and providing resources at the same time.