Nursing & Healthcare News

Antibiotic Resistance

2.9 million infections a year, but hospital efforts are helping

A new CDC report estimates that antibiotic-resistant infections now kill almost 36,000 people a year in the U.S., but hospitals have made some important progress in infection control.

Strong Improvement

Two weeks before Thanksgiving, the CDC published “Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States, 2019,” an updated version of a report previously issued back in 2013.

The latest report offers some sobering estimates: Antibiotic-resistant (AR) bacteria and fungi now cause at least 2,868,700 infections and 35,900 deaths each year in the U.S.

However, the good news is that hospital-associated AR infections have fallen 28 percent since 2012, meaning that hospital efforts to combat these infections are helping. Hospital deaths due to Clostridioides difficile and MRSA infections — which together cause more deaths than all other drug-resistant infections combined — have also declined by almost 30 percent.

That’s important progress. Michael Craig, MPP, of the CDC’s Antibiotic Resistance Coordination and Strategy Unit notes that “healthcare-associated resistant infections account for 85 percent of the deaths” due to drug-resistant microorganisms

New and More Dangerous

Despite this encouraging progress, the CDC warns that appropriate antibiotic stewardship and infection control efforts remain vitally important.

New and more dangerous antibiotic-resistant threats pop up all the time. The 2019 report identifies several AR threats that weren’t even on the radar six years earlier! These include drug-resistant Candida auris, an invasive fungal infection whose case fatality rate can be as high as one in three.

Nursing Education

“With emerging threats like this, the modern medicine available to us today may very well be gone tomorrow if we don’t slow the development of antibiotic resistance,” says CDC Director Robert Redfield, M.D. “Antibiotic resistance remains a significant enemy.”

You can download the 2019 threat report at www.cdc.gov/DrugResistance.


Aaron Severson is a freelance writer, editor, and writing consultant as well as the associate editor of Working Nurse.


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