Despite the significant benefits of antimicrobials in the treatment of disease, widespread use of antimicrobials, especially antibiotics, over the past 50 years have led microbes to evolve and become resistant to many commonly used antimicrobial drugs. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified antimicrobial resistance as a public health concern because increasing resistance raises the potential for spreading infectious diseases.
Factors Contributing to Antimicrobial Resistance
Overuse and improper use of antimicrobials, especially antibiotics, is a primary factor contributing to antimicrobial resistance. Some of the most common examples of this include:
- Using the wrong dose of an antibiotic, or using an antibiotic with an unnecessarily broad-spectrum.
- Adults seeking medication for upper respiratory infections commonly caused by viruses which are not effectively treated by antibiotics.
- Pressure from parents seeking medication for young children with upper respiratory infections caused by viruses.
In addition, the widespread availability of current antibiotics and an overall decline in the development of new antibiotics have also served to compound the problem.
What Physicians Can Do
Antimicrobial stewardship programs are intended to limit inappropriate use and optimize therapy. Comprehensive stewardship programs are usually hospital-based and provide teaching and point-of-care education. These initiatives help physicians decide which antimicrobials to initiate and also provide a course of the care for their patients.
The following are some antimicrobial stewardship program resources for physicians:
Research and Reports