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J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2009 Jan;64(1):138-41. doi: 10.1093/gerona/gln020. Epub 2009 Jan 20.

The emerging threat of multidrug-resistant gram-negative organisms in long-term care facilities.

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Department of Medicine, Hebrew Rehabilitation Center for Aged, Boston, MA 02131, USA.



Infections caused by antimicrobial-resistant bacteria are associated with substantial morbidity and mortality. Residents of long-term care facilities (LTCF) are among the main reservoirs of antimicrobial-resistant bacteria, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE). Multidrug-resistant gram-negative organisms (MDRGN) are emerging as important pathogens among LTCF residents. Data on the clinical epidemiology of MDRGN, especially in comparison to VRE and MRSA, are limited.


All clinical cultures collected from residents of a 750-bed LTCF for a period of 2 years were analyzed for the presence of MDRGN, VRE, and MRSA. Multidrug resistance among gram-negative bacteria was defined as resistance to three or more antimicrobials or antimicrobial groups including extended-spectrum penicillins (ampicillin/sulbactam or piperacillin/tazobactam), cephalosporins (cefazolin or ceftriaxone), gentamicin, ciprofloxacin, and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (TMP/SMX).


A total of 1,661 clinical cultures were included in the analysis. MDRGN were recovered from 180 (10.8%) cultures, MRSA from 104 (6.3%), and VRE from 11 (0.6%). MDRGN were isolated more frequently than MRSA or VRE throughout the study period. The prevalence of MDRGN increased significantly from 7% in 2003 to 13% in 2005 (p = .001). More than 80% of MDRGN isolates were resistant to ciprofloxacin, TMP/SMX, and ampicillin/sulbactam. Resistance to three, four, and five or more antimicrobials were identified among 122 (67.8%), 47 (26.1%), and 11 (6.1%) MDRGN isolates, respectively.


Rates of MDRGN exceeded those of MRSA and VRE and increased throughout the study period. Resistance to multiple, commonly prescribed antimicrobials among MDRGN raises concerns about therapeutic options available to treat MDRGN infections among LTCF residents.

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