Augmented Intervention Needed to Prevent Increase of Drug-Resistant Infections

Without nationwide improvements in infection control and antibiotic prescribing, drug-resistant infections and C. difficile are expected to increase, but coordinated efforts could prevent 619,000 infections over 5 years.

Without nationwide improvements in infection control and antibiotic prescribing, drug-resistant infections and C. difficile are expected to increase, according to projections from CDC. However, coordinated efforts by federal agencies, healthcare facilities, and public health departments could prevent 619,000 antibiotic resistant and C. difficile infections and save 37,000 lives over 5 years, according to the latest CDC Vital Signs.

The CDC researchers used data from the National Healthcare Safety Network and Emerging Infections Program to project the number of infections from antibiotic-resistant bacteria or C. difficile both with and without national intervention, such as improved antibiotic stewardship.

“Antibiotic resistant infections in health care settings are a growing threat in the United States, killing thousands and thousands of people each year,” CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, said in a statement. “We can dramatically reduce these infections if health care facilities, nursing homes, and public health departments work together to improve antibiotic use and infection control so patients are protected.”

Current estimates have determined that antibiotic-resistant bacteria cause 2 million illnesses and 23,000 deaths each year in the United States.

The researchers estimated that when carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) is first introduced, with no augmented intervention the prevalence of CRE infection after 5 years could be 12.2%. However, with an augmented approach, the prevalence would be 2.1% after 5 years.

The Vital Signs report recommended a 2-part approach to prevent illnesses:

  1. Public health departments track and alert healthcare facilities to drug-resistant germ outbreaks in their area and the threat of germs coming from other facilities
  2. Healthcare facilities work together with public health authorities to implement shared infection control actions to stop the spread of antibiotic-resistant germs and C. difficile between facilities

“We must transform our public health response to turn the tide,” said Beth Bell, MD, MPH, director of CDC’s National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases. “The coordinated response this Vital Signs report describes is a forward-looking approach.”