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Superbugs and hospital infections, part 2: role of the CDC

In the first part of this post, we began discussing the problem of antibiotics-resistant "superbugs" that can make hospital-acquired infections potentially lethal.

One such superbug is called "C. diff." As we noted, it can cause deadly diarrhea infections.

In this part of the post, we will discuss how the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is trying to address superbug issues.

The CDC has already communicated to both health departments and hospitals regarding ways to approach superbugs.

Broadly, the CDC has two main strategies.

One strategy is to encourage hospitals to use a multi-step checklist to track prescription practices and identify common patterns involving bacteria that are resistant to antibiotic drugs. The CDC would like health departments to assist hospitals with these tracking efforts.

The other strategy concerns the methodology used by doctors when determining what type of medications may be called for and how patients respond to treatment. The goal is to get a better sense of how well antibiotics are working - or not working.

In recent decades, Western medicine has traditionally relied heavily on heavy-duty use of prescription drugs. This has undeniably been a powerful service model for medical care in many ways.

But doctors under the sway of the medication model have tended to prescribe antibiotics for symptoms of bacterial infections very quickly - and this has contributed to the rise of newer bacteria that the usual application of abundant antibiotics is unable to address.

In short, these superbugs are forcing the medical community to confront its prescription practices and find smarter ways to fight infections that do not rely so heavily on antibiotics.

Source: CNN Health, "CDC: Hospitlas contibuting to rise of superbugs," March 5, 2014

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