In February, the antibiotic-resistant bacteria, carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), killed two people at UCLA’s Ronald Reagan Medical Center and infected five others. In Charlotte, health officials announced that two area residents there fell victim to CRE. And four people were found to have been infected with the superbug at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, with an additional 67 other people possibly exposed.

The most recent cases at Ronald Reagan Medical Center and Cedars-Sinai have been linked to contaminated medical instruments. The news sparked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to draft new guidelines for sanitizing medical devices, but those in the cleaning/environmental services field know more must be done to protect against superbugs such as CRE.

According to a recent report, hospital-related infections have decreased in recent years. A government report that included data from more than 14,500 hospitals and healthcare facilities showed significant national-level reductions in all health care-associated infections. From 2008 to 2013, for example, there was a 19 percent decrease in select surgical site infections.

But slower progress has been made on bacterial infections; there was an 8 percent decrease in hospital-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA - tips to prevention) from 2011 to 2013, and a 10 percent decrease in hospital-onset Clostridium difficile (C.diff - tips to prevention) infections over the same time period.

CRE, on the other hand, remains at “historically high levels.” These infections have been reported in 42 states over the past 10 years, according to the CDC, and may contribute to death in about half of infected patients. (Tips to prevention)

According to a 2014 study in the New England Journal of Medicine, some patients and facilities are especially at risk for hospital-associated infections. Infants, critical care patients, and large hospitals have an elevated risk, the study found.

The study also found that 4 percent of the 11,282 patients studied had developed at least one health care-associated infection. Experts add that prolonged intensive care stays, long courses of broad-spectrum antibiotics, and admission to long-term care facilities also increase a patient’s risks.

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