Antibiotic awareness tops ID agenda


Antibiotic resistance is “one of the greatest problems we face,” according to Jennifer A. Hanrahan, DO, MSc, of MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland. Dr. Hanrahan led the education session, “A Bug’s Life: Infectious Disease Pearls,” and she called the topic “timely and timeless.”

Antibiotic resistance stems from several problems, Dr. Hanrahan said in her Monday presentation. “One of these is overuse of antibiotics, specifically overuse of broad-spectrum antibiotics, and the other problem is overuse of testing.”

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that at least 2 million people in the United States develop antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections each year. At least 23,000 of these patients die each year because of these infections.

In 2013, the CDC published a report on drug-resistant threats in the United States. The three offenders deemed most serious – Clostridium difficile, Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, and Neisseria gonorrhoeae, continue to challenge clinicians.

Clinicians can help curb antibiotic resistance by practicing good stewardship, said Dr. Hanrahan. “Antimicrobial stewardship and laboratory stewardship are two things that can greatly improve patient care and outcomes for patients,” she said.

Dr. Jennifer Hanrahan MetroHealth Medical Center, Cleveland

Dr. Jennifer Hanrahan

“Testing stewardship means ordering tests that are necessary based on signs and symptoms,” said Dr. Hanrahan. “For example, people often order urine cultures when there are no symptoms of urinary tract infection, and then end up treating positive cultures with antibiotics even when there are no symptoms of infection. This leads to unnecessary antibiotic exposure,” she noted.

The CDC’s core plans to fight antimicrobial resistance include:

  • Preventing infections in the first place: The CDC emphasizes the importance of prevention through hand washing, safe food handling practices, and immunizations.
  • Tracking data: The CDC collects and uses data on resistant infections to identify risk factors for resistance and develop strategies to prevent the spread of resistant bacteria.
  • Practicing antibiotic stewardship: As Dr. Hanrahan noted, judicious use of antibiotics can help cut down on resistant bacteria.
  • Developing alternatives: The CDC supports the development of new antibiotics and new tests to track antibacterial resistance.


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