Prevention efforts show impact on antibiotic resistant infections in U.S. hospitals

Nov. 14, 2019

The Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA) says a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report released on antibiotic-resistant infections has a bright spot — it shows prevention efforts in hospitals are working — but additional research and coordinated efforts inside and outside hospitals are needed to contain the growing threat of antibiotic resistance.

The CDC report, Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States, underscores the continued threat of antibiotic resistance. The data show that the burden of antibiotic resistance is greater than initially understood. It attributes the decline in deaths to infection prevention practices, vaccinations, and improved use of antibiotics, especially in hospitals. Antibiotic stewardship programs use multiple strategies to improve the way antibiotics are prescribed and used. They are an important defense against the development of antibiotic resistance. These approaches help preserve the effectiveness of the antibiotics currently available.

“This data is exciting because it shows that we are not powerless against antibiotic resistance. SHEA members, which include hospital epidemiologists, infection prevention specialists, researchers and pharmacists, are running critically important infection prevention and antibiotic stewardship programs that save lives and help protect patients, making hospitals safer for everyone,” said Hilary Babcock, MD, MPH, president of SHEA. “We must continue to fund and support effective infection prevention and antibiotic stewardship programs in every healthcare setting and use every tool we have to prevent the spread of antibiotic resistance.”

While prevention and containment efforts are demonstrating an impact in hospital settings, infection rates in other health facilities and in the community are not showing the same gains. For example, the report notes that the vast majority of ESBL-producing Enterobacteriaceae begin in the community (47%), after a recent healthcare exposure (34%), or in a long-term care facility (14%). Additionally, cases of Clostridioides difficile, an infectious diarrhea that is promoted by the use of antibiotics, are decreasing in hospitals, but community-associated cases are not.

“The evidence base for preventing infections was primarily developed in hospitals. Targeted investments are needed for research to increase our understanding of effective strategies to prevent and contain infections in other settings, and for studies of the best ways to maximize implementation of those strategies once identified. These evidence-based strategies must be adapted and spread across settings so that all patients can benefit from this life-saving science,” said Babcock.

SHEA has tools and resources available to educate and inform healthcare professionals about best practices in infection prevention and control, antibiotic stewardship, and more, including podcasts, continuing education courses, and guidelines.

CDC has the full report.

SHEA has the release.