The CDC has issued another warning about the misuse of antibiotics, this time those administered by hospitals. They found that some doctors at some facilities were prescribing antibiotics at three times the rate of others. Such overuse puts patients at risk for infections by deadly superbugs. The CDC report found that antibiotics are largely unregulated in hospitals.
Dr. Scott Fridkin is Senior Advisor of Antibiotic Resistance in Healthcare at the CDC. “I think this is the first time CDC is coming out and saying every hospital should implement an antibiotic stewardship program, both to improve patient safety and preserve the utility of these life-saving drugs for future generations. In the past we’ve always said this is one way to reduce antibiotic resistant infections, but now we’re saying it is about patient safety and should be occurring at all hospitals.”
More than 23,000 Americans die each year from drug-resistant bacteria.
Dr. Charles Ericsson is the head of Clinical and Infectious Diseases at the University of Texas Medical School at Houston. “At the Harris Health System we have very strong system that requires physicians to come through us if they want access to some of the certain antibiotics and we’ll direct them to choices that are not only cost effective but really are the better and more potent choice. One approach is – don’t use antibiotics of they’re not needed, and that’s certainly very important. That’s where the lay-public can help us too; don’t go asking your doctor for an antibiotic every time you get the sniffles. And then we have the doctor in the hospital that needs to use antibiotics. They can be life saving. But we need to make sure that when they initialize them they are using the correct one, because the longer you wait to use the correct antibiotic the increase in mortality is seen. And then we they get their cultures back they need to de-escalate. Focus down on the pathogen. Try not to disturb the protective other organisms in the body and just nail the one that’s causing the trouble. And when you’ve got to do that – do it WELL!”
The CDC report also offers a solution to the problem.
They have requested $30 million over the next five years to set up regional labs in different parts of the company so the moment they realize they have a new never-before-seen superbug – they’ll be able to respond immediately before it spreads. They estimate such precautions will save $1 billion in health care costs and prevent 20,000 deaths.
Dr. Ericsson says he suspects some of the problems may be at private hospitals where it is kind of hard to pull of antibiotic stewardship.