You may have seen recent media coverage about superbugs in hospitals.

The antibiotic resistant bacteria that has been mentioned is CRE (Carbapenem Resistant Enterobacteriaceae) and is usually found in the bowel or in a wound, without symptoms. An antibiotic resistant bacteria such as CRE is very rare and usually only found in patients that have received medical treatment overseas.

People who are carrying CRE are at a higher risk of developing a serious infection when they have an operation, taking multiple antibiotics and receiving hospital based treatment such as urinary catheters, ventilators or an IV. Most people don’t know they are carrying CRE and may never develop a serious infection. If a doctor thinks you may have been infected with CRE they can complete a simple test to be sure.

The single most effective way to prevent the transmission of CRE and other bacterial infections is to always wash your hands after the toilet and always before preparing food.

Am I safe if I come into hospital for treatment?

The Royal Melbourne Hospital has stringent infection prevention processes in place when dealing with CRE and other antibiotic resistance bacteria. We follow the national CRE guidelines and we have increased screening procedures in our emergency department to detect CRE in patients who have been hospitalised overseas.

Find out more about CRE at the Better Health Channel.