Author - Sara Cosgrove, MD, MS,
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Medical and scientific advances change the way we look at the world. Before penicillin was introduced in 1942, any infection could be a death sentence. Since then, we have been in awe of and dependent on the use of antibiotics as one of the most valuable tools in our medical toolbox. But society as a whole has taken these drugs for granted with use that has allowed the issue of drug resistant infections to creep up on us and grow to be a serious public health threat. Correcting this misuse of antibiotics in our healthcare facilities is necessary to help preserve these drugs; the cost of inaction is too great to be ignored.
One strategy to preserve the use of the antibiotics currently available and reign in resistance is antimicrobial stewardship. These programs and interventions help prescribers know the right drug, at the right time, in the right dose, for the right duration. These programs help to improve the use of antibiotics.
Antimicrobial resistance is becoming an increasing issue in healthcare facilities and communities throughout the country, as evidenced by outbreaks of MRSA and carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE). These resistant bugs are associated with increased patient morbidity, mortality and higher healthcare costs spent on useless use of antibiotics and longer, more intense hospital stays.