Protecting Patients: Innovating to Combat Antibiotic Resistance


Antimicrobial resistance is one of the major threats throughout the world. If we lose the ability to treat with antibiotics, we’re going to lose most of the gains that we’ve made. People worry about a post-antibiotic era. That era is already here. The good news is the global community is beginning to mobilize on a scale that recognizes the scope of that problem. Almost everything that CDC does is done in collaboration with our partners. One of the partners is the Vermont Oxford Network. The Vermont Oxford Network works closely with the CDC to develop a quality improvement program for neonatal intensive care teams. There are two issues that we really need to confront. One is the overuse of antibiotics, the other is the misuse of antibiotics. Healthcare teams participating in these collaboratives have made gains in both of those areas. In addition, we attempt to engage families deeply in the care of their infants. Our goal is that families understand when infants are started on antibiotics and why, and when they should be stopping those antibiotics. I think that type of dialogue is critical to best possible care of newborn infants. One of the places that has been working
with the Vermont Oxford Network is the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Any time that a patient has to come to a healthcare setting, they’re coming to an area where there is a threat of acquiring an infection and our job is to
prevent patients from getting infections when they come for care. One way that we work to prevent antimicrobial-resistant infections is to really maintain the healthcare environment as clean as possible. The environmental services workers are critical in making this a safe environment . And I think that it’s really important that we as clinicians and the parents and patients appreciate those unsung heroes that are really members of our healthcare team. We’ve made some real advances in the work to prevent antibiotic-resistant infections. But there’s so much more to be done. The same principles that we’ve been applying here need to be applied in other healthcare settings. A lot of that then needs to call on our partners that have these great ideas for how they could improve a practice or prevent the spread of an infection in
healthcare settings. Veterans hospitals tend to care for a population that is vulnerable to antibiotic-resistant infections. A few years ago, with CDC backing, we embarked on a project called the VA CRE Registry. CRE are a family of highly resistant gut bugs. So, the tracking system takes national VA data and alerts the facility when a patient with a history of antimicrobial-resistant infections is admitted to that facility. Such that, infection control procedures can be employed right at the time of admission and prevent outbreaks. So much of the progress that we’ve made has come simply because all of the many partners have come forward and said we recognize this is a problem and we’re going to double down on those efforts to work even harder. Truly, where there is a will, there’s a way, and what we need is for people to recognize the problem and commit to doing something.

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