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CDC says coordination is the key to stopping antibiotic-resistant bacteria



August 06, 2015
Area(s) of Interest: Hospitals and Health Facilities Infectious Diseases Public Health 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that a coordinated approach to controlling antibiotic-resistant bacteria could prevent an estimated 619,000 hospital-acquired infections resulting from drug-resistant bacteria. With an increasing number of deadly “superbugs,” this relatively simple solution could save tens of thousands of lives over the next five years.


According to a CDC report released this week, a coordinated approach—in which health facilities in a region share data with a central public health authority — could dramatically improve detection and save an estimated $7.7 billion in direct medical costs.


“Antibiotic-resistant infections in health care settings are a growing threat in the United States, killing thousands and thousands of people each year,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., MPH. “We can dramatically reduce these infections if health care facilities, nursing homes and public health departments work together to improve antibiotic use and infection control so patients are protected.”


According to the CDC study, antibiotic-resistant germs, those that no longer respond to the drugs designed to kill them, cause more than 2 million illnesses and at least 23,000 deaths each year in the U.S. C. difficile alone caused close to half a million illnesses in 2011, and an estimated 15,000 deaths a year are directly attributable to C. difficile infections.


The report recommends the following coordinated, two-part approach to turn this data into action that prevents illness and saves lives:



  1. Public health departments track and alert health care facilities to drug-resistant germ outbreaks in their area and the threat of germs coming from other facilities, and

  2. Health care facilities work together and with public health authorities to implement shared infection control actions to stop the spread of antibiotic-resistant germs between facilities.


In 2011, an estimated 310,000 drug-resistant hospital acquired infections occurred in the U.S. Without additional interventions, the CDC predicts that in five years the number of infections caused by these pathogens will increase by approximately 10 percent, to 340,000 per year.


“We must transform our public health response to turn the tide,” said Beth Bell, M.D., MPH, director of CDC’s National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases.


For more information, see the CDC's study, published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

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