WASHINGTON, D.C. (WUSA) -- Despite sanitation efforts and infection controls, a deadly "superbug" spread in the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center last year.
18 people became infected with the drug resistant bacteria Klebsiella and 6 died.
Experts at NIH used genome sequencing to help quell the bacterial outbreak.
The Klebsiella bacteria is currently not required to be reported, but many wonder why the public found out about this incident a year later when the case studies were published.
Michael Bell, M.D., Associate Director for Infection Control at CDC's Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion says, "The investigation that was published is something that does take some time, the information needs to get out quickly, but the information that gets out needs to be accurate. So some of this is about the time that requires to pin something down."
Dr. Bell noted that hospital infections like these unfortunately are common; the challenge is figuring out how these infections are related.
However, more hospital infections will be reportable very soon.
"We are about to go live with a reporting system to allow healthcare facilities to track and report MRSA and C. difficile. Those are the first two and we'll be steadily adding more infections to that.", adds Dr. Bell.
Medical facilities will be required to report MRSA and C. difficile starting in January.
He notes that the actions at NIH to quell and stop the spread of the infections is the key activity. The officials at the CDC want medical facilities to detect the problems when they happen and protect their patients.
As individuals we all can protect ourselves when we are in medical facilities.
Dr. Bell says, "Any time you are receiving care, even though it is very hard, you need to be comfortable enough to ask your nurse, your doctor, whoever it is who is touching you, to 'wash your hands'."
"The job of keeping you safe is not on the shoulders of the patient, it's on the shoulders of the doctors and nurses, but we as patients can help remind."
NIH says the Klebsiella outbreak was never a danger to the community, only to patients in the hospital whose immune systems were weakened.