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Drug-resistant infections could rise unchecked without stewardship

December 15, 2014
by Pamela Tabar, Editor-in-Chief
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Antimicrobial stewardship—the strategy and protocols used to curb the ability of pathogens to resist the drugs we have developed to kill them—could be one of the smartest approaches skilled nursing can adopt to protect its residents, based on data in a new report released this week by the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC).

If strong actions are not taken to curb microbial resistance, then deaths attributed to antimicrobial resistance could skyrocket to 10 million worldwide by 2050, more than all current cancer-related deaths put together, the report projected. Likewise, without the earnest development of newer types of antimicrobials, even simple medical procedures could could become fertile ground for resistant infections.

The report examines the global impacts of drug-resistant microbes, including the emergence of new, resistent strains of diseases once thought to be “conquered” by modern medicine, such as tuberculosis and malaria. Bacterial infections that occur in long-term care settings, such as Klebsiella pneumonia, Staphylococcus aureus and even the common Escherichia coli, are cited in the report as microbes that already are showing resistant characteristics.

APIC has launched resources that can help educate residents and their families about the importance of the responsible prescribing and use of antibiotics, including a new poster explaining the ABCs of antibiotics, available in both English and Spanish. Resources for healthcare professionals and other educational materials for consumers are also available, housed on APIC’s Infection Prevention and You website.

The overuse and inapprorpiate use of antimicrobial drugs combined with the growth of travel within and between global regions prime conditions for emergent resistant strains. “Such mixing of different microbes, particularly bacteria, provides them with opportunities to share their genetic material with each other, creating new resistant strains at an unprecedented pace,” the report states. “No country can, therefore, successfully tackle [antimicrobial resistance] by acting in isolation.”

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