Avoiding infections in the era of drug-resistant germs

Protecting patients from hospital-borne infections is important in any setting. But it is especially critical for cancer patients, who face a number of challenges not just in fighting their disease but in avoiding additional illnesses that can complicate their prognosis. Some cancer treatments lower the body’s resistance to germs, for example, making patients more vulnerable to infection. Surgical wounds, catheters, and infusion access points like ports and PICC lines open additional pathways for bacteria to travel and penetrate the body’s defenses. Cancers such as leukemia, which originate in the bone marrow, attack the immune system. Chemotherapy treatments can shrink numbers of white blood cells, the body’s germ-fighting arsenal.