Shea: Currently, drug-resistant bacteria cause at least 2 million infections and 23,000 deaths each year in the United States. Additionally, these infections often require increased length of hospital stay and increased use of more costly, potentially toxic antimicrobials. The World Health Organization (WHO) predicts that death by drug-resistant bacteria will be the leading cause of death by 2050, exceeding that of cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
Q: What is being done at the national and global levels to combat the epidemic?
Shea: The Joint Commission (TJC), DNV GL-Healthcare, and certain states (including California and Missouri) now require antimicrobial stewardship in various settings. The CDC has also formed an Antibiotic Resistance Solutions Initiative, which invests in healthcare settings across the United States and collaborates in global activities. They are leading efforts to detect, respond, and contain antibiotic resistance, prevent the spread of resistance, and innovate new ways to protect and treat patients. The United Nations Ad hoc Interagency Coordinating Group on Antimicrobial Resistance has also recently released a report requesting immediate action to prevent a drug-resistance crisis.