Prevent infections. This might be the most obvious way to fight antibiotic-resistance—if there’s no infection, there is no need to worry about one that can’t be treated. Hospitalists can help prevent infection by quickly and effectively treating those who are infected to prevent the spread, washing hands, and promoting effective cleaning habits.
Tracking. The CDC has programs to gather information on antibiotic-resistant infections, causes of infections, and risk factors for infections. With this information, hospitalists can stay aware of the threats. They can also help by remaining vigilant about signs of new resistance and helping to get that information to the CDC.
The CDC is now working on a new module that will collect antimicrobial-susceptibility data that’s generated in hospital labs, Dr. Patel says.
“This will be compiled in a national database and then made available to state and local public health departments that could track antimicrobial resistance trends in their own state,” she says. “We hope those data will then be used to identify new trends in anti-microbial resistance and used to strategize how to prevent resistance from being transmitted locally.”
Antibiotic stewardship. The CDC says prescribing antibiotics only when necessary and tailoring treatment as narrowly as possible might be the most important step in fighting antimicrobial resistance. The CDC estimates that up to half of antibiotic use in humans is unnecessary.
The CDC is working to capture data on antibiotic use in healthcare settings, which will be used for benchmarking antibiotic use among different institutions and regions.
“I think this additional information will really help healthcare institutions measure how well antibiotics are being used in their institutions and make appropriate adjustments,” Dr. Patel says.
New drugs and diagnostic tests. New antibiotics will be needed because, while resistance can be slowed, it cannot be stopped. However, the number of New Drug Application approvals for antibiotics has fallen drastically—nearly 20 from 1980 to 1984, but fewer than five from 2005 to 2012, according to the CDC report.