CDC: immediate, coordinated efforts needed to prevent antibiotic-resistant infections

Health care-associated infections (HAIs) caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria and Clostridium difficile (C. diff) are expected to rise by 10 percent over the next five years while treatment options remain limited, according to a report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC finds that by moving away from the traditional individual institutional approach to infection control in favor of coordinated infection control programs and “antibiotic stewardship interventions,” half a million HAIs and 37,000 deaths could be prevented over five years.

Antibiotic-resistant infections

Effective treatments for HAIs caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria and C. diff are limited and do not exist for some individuals. The CDC estimates that two million illnesses and 23,000 deaths each year in the U.S. are caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Additionally, almost 250,000 individuals are hospitalized each year due to C. diff infections, which are often caused by antibiotic use. Such infections can potentially affect even individuals outside health care settings and the spread of antibiotic-resistant pathogens has outpaced the development of new treatments.

Traditional efforts

Infection control interventions have been historically implemented by individual health care facilities without coordination with other facilities that often treat the same patients. As a result, efforts by independent facilities have not adequately controlled the spread of antibiotic-resistant pathogens from facility to facility.

Review

The CDC examined data from four “particularly problematic” HAIs to determine whether infections caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria or C. diff would be better prevented by large-scale national intervention efforts versus independent facility efforts. The CDC concluded that a coordinated response was far more effective in preventing infections and estimated that immediate, coordinated action could prevent more than half a million HAIs over the next five years.

Conclusions

The report finds that public health departments may be best suited to facilitate antibiotic-resistant HAI prevention efforts because they are able to work with facilities within their jurisdictions and they possess expertise in the areas of surveillance and prevention. They are also well equipped to enter into partnerships with various stakeholders, including hospitals, academic institutions, and federal entities. State-based prevention programs can share data and prevent infection by promoting accurate testing. They can also quickly identify and respond to infection clusters by targeting resources and facilitating communication between health care entities.