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CDC: Overuse of antibiotics in hospitals may create superbugs

If you are treated at a New York hospital, it is likely that you will be prescribed an antibiotic, regardless of the reason for which you are seeking treatment. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately half of all patients take antibiotics at some point during their hospital stay.

Of course, many of these antibiotics are vitally important to patients’ health. But many are prescribed unnecessarily, and that overprescription may be doing more harm than good. Specifically, the CDC says that unnecessary and improper antibiotic use may be contributing to the recent influx of drug-resistant “superbugs.” By sickening people with infections that are resistant to antibiotics, these superbugs can cause significant harm to vulnerable patients.

One example of such a superbug is Clostridium difficile. C. diff., as it is more commonly known, is a bacteria that causes intestinal infections in patients who are on antibiotics. According to the CDC, a 30 percent decrease in the use of “high-risk antibiotics” would reduce the occurrence of those infections by more than 25 percent.

Interestingly, the CDC states that there is a wide variance in the frequency of antibiotic prescription, with some hospitals prescribing antibiotics at a rate three times higher than other facilities. In order to reduce unnecessary antibiotic use across the board, the CDC is implementing initiatives aimed at educating doctors and tracking both prescriptions and reports of superbugs.

Hopefully, these initiatives are successful at preventing the overuse of antibiotics and the spread of these dangerous, deadly bacteria. 

Source: CNN Health, “CDC: Hospitals contributing to rise of superbugs,” Katy Mersmann, March 5, 2014.

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