At their annual meetings in San Jose, California, The Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology released the startling results of a large comprehensive survey which indicated that as many as 5% of all hospital and nursing home patients are infected with a dangerous, antibiotic resistant Staph germ. According to the survey, on any given day, at least 30,000 hospital patients in the United States are infected with this “super bug”, known as methicillin-resistent Stayphylococcus aureus. This means that 46 of every 1,000 patients will fall victim to the bug!

This “super bug” is treatable with alternative antibiotics, but patients catching the germ are going to experience sometimes-horrific skin infections, blood infections and pneumonia.

The potentially fatal germ is spread by contact, with people with open sores or wounds being the most susceptible. Since those of us who are dealing with advanced and recurrent prostate cancer are likely to find that we will have periodic hospital stays and regular visits to our Oncologists, we need to insist that our doctors, their staffs and the hospital workers who come in contact with us take aggressive preventive actions.

You should insist that all of your health care providers wash their hands, both coming into your hospital room or to your examination and then again as they leave. The super bug can also be passed to you by poor equipment decontamination procedures.

Do not be afraid to quiz anybody about what precautions they have taken. If they can not provide adequate answers insist that they wash their hands properly or open the sterile equipment packages in front of you. This is your right! Its your life.

Joel T Nowak MA, MSW