Lee says that his findings are not really an enormous surprise to the healthcare industry. "Everyone understands this. But the problem is that in the real world, our policies, practices, interventions and infection control measures are structured as if the opposite is true, that individual control is what we need to worry about. The sense that, 'As long as it's not in my back yard, I don't have to worry. I just have to worry about me.' "
For example, penalties and reporting policies and procedures promulgated by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services target rates of hospital-acquired infections at the individual facility level, not rates for the community at large, and Lee thinks that's misguided.
"We really have to essentially force everyone to realize that we all depend on each other, and the only real way to do that is to introduce very short term, obvious benefits for working together, and negative incentives for not working together. Until those are in place, cooperation is not going to occur."
VRE is primarily spread from patient-to-patient in healthcare settings, usually through the hands of healthcare providers who have had contact with other people colonized with VRE or surfaces that are contaminated with the bacteria. Estimates vary on its prevalence, but suggest it can be as high as 12% throughout a hospital system, and 28% of patients treated in intensive care units.