Skip to main content

News

The Hidden Toll of Drug-Resistant Superbugs

By ProPublica  
   September 19, 2016

An investigative series of reports reveals that government agencies are unwilling, or unable, to accurately track the problem and that the medical community too often keeps it from public view, suggests ProPublica.

This article first appeared September 19, 2016 on ProPublica.

By Marshall Allen

Just 17 days old, Josiah Cooper-Pope died in the hospital after he was infected with a drug-resistant bacteria, but no one added his death to the toll from the deadly bug.

As Reuters reported earlier this month, hospital officials told Josiah's mom about the infection, but not that her son was the fourth patient out of 12 who would eventually become infected during an outbreak. The hospital also didn't notify public health officials as the law required. And the final record, Josiah's death certificate, did not report the superbug as a cause of death. As the story said, it's as if the killer got away.

The Reuters investigation, "The Uncounted: The Deadly Epidemic America is Ignoring," details how drug-resistant superbugs like methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, better known as MRSA, are quietly killing tens of thousands of Americans a year. Part one of the series reveals that the government agencies entrusted to protect our health are unwilling, or unable, to accurately track the problem – and that the medical community too often keeps it from public view.

On this week's ProPublica podcast, we talk with the reporters behind the investigation, Ryan McNeill, Deborah Nelson and Yasmeen Abutaleb.

Here are a few highlights from our conversation, edited for clarity and length:

Tell us about these superbugs.

ProPublica is an independent, non-profit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest.


Get the latest on healthcare leadership in your inbox.