Antimicrobial resistance is a world-wide problem and increases the difficulty a variety of infections. In the United States, the major threat that is faced each day by millions of Americans every year is posed by bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics. Studies to obtain precise estimates for all types of resistant infections is ongoing, but we do know that every year, almost 90,000 people become ill with infections caused by one of these resistant bacteria—methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or MRSA. Of these people, over 15,000 die.
Tremendously effective strategies have been developed to prevent infections, especially those likely to be caused by resistant bacteria. Readers of this blog are very familiar with the wide range of evidence-based, proven-effective interventions that reduce the incidence of infections and prevent the transmission of dangerous pathogens between people, especially hospitalized patients who are most at risk.
But a critical strategy for preventing the development of drug resistance in bacteria is to use antibiotics carefully and judiciously. Scientists have known for 70 years, since the first antibiotics were introduced, that the more antibiotics are used, the quicker bacteria develop the mechanisms to become resistant to them. Studies have shown that as much as 50% of all antibiotics used in the United States may not be used in the best and most effective way. In many cases, the antibiotic was not needed at all.
November 14 – 20 marks Get Smart Week in the U.S. to increase awareness and understanding of the problem of antibiotic resistant infections and the role of unnecessary antibiotic use in leading to these serious and sometimes fatal infections. Get Smart Week coincides with activities in many other countries around the world to bring attention to this global problem.
On November 15, the Federal Government’s Interagency Task Force on Antimicrobial Resistance will meet to discuss progress toward addressing this problem. The Task Force has recently published A Public Health Action Plan to Combat Antimicrobial Resistance [PDF – 345 KB] a revised and updated version of the U.S. government’s national strategy for preventing infection, illness and death from antimicrobial resistance. The action plan highlights federal priorities in many key areas to combat antimicrobial resistance, including strategies to improve antibiotic use led by CDC.
I urge all of you to get involved in addressing this problem.
You can read Dr. Solomon’s bio here.
*This blog post was originally published at Safe Healthcare*