On 09/Oct/2014 / In Medical News
About half of all United States hospital patients receive antibiotics, and these drugs are commonly the ones more likely to promote the growth of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, a new study found.
“This is where the bad bugs spread, in the hospitals, because so many people are receiving antibiotics, and one of the only things that can spread are the antibiotic-resistant bugs,” said Dr. Eli Perencevich, an infectious disease epidemiologist at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine.
“We have to figure out better ways to reduce excess antibiotic use, and one way to do that is to get better at making diagnoses,” he added.
The study identified how many of more than 11,000 patients received antibiotics on a given day at one of 183 hospitals throughout the United States in 2011. The researchers found that 50 per cent of these patients got at least one antibiotic, and about half of those patients received two or more antibiotics.
The study, led by researchers at the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The CDC also funded the study.
The most common reasons for the antibiotics were lower respiratory tract infections, followed by urinary tract infections and skin or soft tissue infections. About 76 per cent of the patients received antibiotics to treat infections, and about 19 per cent received them to reduce the risk of infection during surgeries, the study found.
More problematic, however, was that the most commonly used medications were broad-spectrum antibiotics, likely due to “fear of targeting the wrong pathogen or missing a resistant organism, especially in a sick patient,” said Dr. Mary Anne Jackson, director of infectious diseases at Children’s Mercy Hospital and Clinics in Kansas City, Mo.
“There are good bacteria, such as on our skin and in our mouth and intestine, that are normal and vital to keeping us healthy,” Jackson said. An infection, on the other hand, is caused by pathogens, the “bad” bacteria. While narrow-spectrum antibiotics primarily target specific germs — mostly the harmful ones — broad-spectrum antibiotics go after a broader range of bacteria, which can kill helpful bacteria as well.
New York Times News Service
BY AGENCY REPORTER
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