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VRE Infection

On behalf of Brown & Crouppen, P.C. on Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Vancomycin-resistant enterococcus faecium (VRE) is a bacterium that generally infects the blood, urinary tract and wounds, and is a significant cause of serious illness and fatality in hospitals across the nation. It is often referred to as a “super germ,” and was originally classified in the 1930s as a streptococci strand but given its own classification in 1984 after it was determined to be a separate bacterium. It is the second-leading cause of hospital-acquired infections behind E. coli.

VRE is believed to be responsible for about 10 percent of all hospital infections, and is especially dangerous to patients with compromised immune systems. The bacteria cannot be controlled with antibiotics. This is the main reason for alarm among doctors – the bacterium’s resistance to antibiotics such as penicillin and vancomycin. Vancomycin has been labeled the “antibiotic of last resort” because of its strength. The rate of infection of VRE has swelled in the years since its initial classification, yet doctors are currently making strides against the harmful bacterium.

One can be exposed to VRE by coming in contact with a contaminated object or person, or by eating contaminated food. The most likely place to be infected with a VRE infection is in a hospital. Those who are admitted into intensive care unit (ICU) rooms that were once occupied by patients with antibiotic-resistant bacteria are at an increased risk of developing severe infections, according to the results of a new U.S. study.

VRE can cultivate from hospital equipment, doorknobs and bedrails. It has also been cultured on the hands of hospital personnel. Anyone who frequents hospitals should be considered at risk for carrying VRE.

Symptoms of a VRE infection can be hard to detect at first, because they mimic other, more common diseases. Symptoms also vary depending on where the infection is in the body. If VRE is causing a wound infection, that area of your skin may be red or tender. If one has a urinary tract infection, you may have back pain, a burning sensation when you urinate, or a need to urinate more often than usual. Other symptoms include diarrhea, weakness, fever and chills.

For more information about VRE view contact the medical malpractice attorneys at Brown & Crouppen who have worked wither other victims of this infection.

If you develop a VRE infection, you will be isolated in a private hospital room to reduce the chances of spreading the bacteria to others. When your medical staff is tending to you, they will use extra precautions such as wearing gloves and gowns. VRE infections may be difficult to cure because the bacterium does not respond to many antibiotics. If you have an infection, your doctor will order antibiotics that may be given by mouth or into a vein through an IV (intravenously). Contact the Missouri medical malpractice attorneys of Brown & Crouppen to discuss moving forward with establishing a claim.

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