06 Sep CDC – Antibiotic Stewardship and Infection Control
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provide America’s medical community with research and data to help it provide citizens with the best care possible. A major focus of the CDC is infection control and prevention, and the health care leader recently released a new guide on the use of antibiotics as a means of reducing the spread of infectious diseases. The guide is intended to prevent the rise of antibiotic-resistant strains of infections by reducing the number of unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions.
What is Antibiotic Resistance?
Antibiotics are medicines designed to kill the specific bacteria that cause disease. However, exposure to rising levels of antibiotics can cause the bacteria to become immune to the medication, a condition called, “antibiotic resistance.” Medical science has not yet mastered the control of antibiotic resistant infections, which creates a public health threat when those diseases spread throughout a community.
How America Uses its Antibiotics
For decades, America’s doctors prescribed antibiotics for many different ailments including bacterial and viral infections. Unfortunately, antibiotics don’t work on viral infections, so the health of virus-infected patients did not improve. What did happen, however, was the antibiotic medicine triggered an immune response in those virally infected bodies; when subsequently exposed to a bacterial infection, the body rejected the antibiotic “cure.” The CDC estimates that up to 30% of all antibiotic prescriptions in outpatient clinics are unnecessary and are thereby increasing the risk of the development of an antibiotic resistant infection.
Avoiding Creation of Antibiotic Resistant Infections
To combat this problem, the CDC launched an Antibiotic Resistance Solutions Initiative to educate the medical profession about the dangers of overprescribing antibiotics, and to give guidance on how to reduce the risk of creating an antibiotic resistant disease. At the same time, the CDC initiated its Antibiotic Stewardship Program to improve the infection controls systems in small and Critical Care Hospital facilities because their rising exposure to infections caused by Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) bacteria, which infects over 500,000 patients (and kills 15,000) each year. The stewardship program has been proven effective in mitigating the causes that lead to outbreaks of C. difficile infections. The mutual goals of the antibiotic resistant initiatives are to improve infection cure rates and save the country the unnecessary cost of treating an untreatable disease.