CDC Report Alleges Nation-Wide Hospital Misuse of Antibiotics

the CDC logo - Centers for Disease ControlPoor prescribing practices are putting patients at unnecessary risk for super-resistant infections, and errors in prescribing decisions also contribute to antibiotic resistance, making these drugs less likely to work in the future, says a report released last week by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Those strong words are based on the following specific findings by the CDC:

1. About 1 out of 3 times, prescriptions for the critical and common drug vancomycin, which is used to treat MRSA, included a potential error – given without proper testing or evaluation, or given for too long.

2. Antibiotic prescribing practices vary widely. For example, doctors in some hospitals prescribed up to 3 times as many antibiotics as doctors in similar areas of other hospitals. This difference suggests the need to improve prescribing practices.

3. Patients getting powerful antibiotics that treat a broad range of infections are up to 3 times more likely to get another infection from an even more resistant germ.

4. Although antibiotics save lives they can also put patients at risk for a Clostridium difficile infection, a deadly diarrhea that causes at least 250,000 infections and 14,000 deaths each year in hospitalized patients.

5. Decreasing the use of antibiotics that most often lead to C. difficile infection by 30% (this is 5% of overall antibiotic use) could lead to 26% fewer of these deadly diarrheal infections.

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