Heavy antibiotic use in acute care facilities could lead to drug-resistant infections

Despite a push at hospitals around the country and the world to combat rising antibiotic resistance, a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association finds hospitals give patients antibiotics that are more likely to promote drug resistance.

Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducted one-day prevalence surveys among randomly selected patients in acute care hospitals in 10 states between May and September 2011. Data collectors reviewed medical records to gather information on antimicrobial drugs they patient received on the survey date and the day prior to the survey, including the reasons for administration, infection sites treated and whether treated infections began in community or healthcare settings.

Out of the 11,282 patients across 183 hospitals, nearly 50 percent received at least one antimicrobial drug at the time of the survey. About 77 percent of those drugs were used to treat infections. The various drugs included vancomycin, ceftriaxone, piperacillin-tazobactam and levofloxacin, and were the most common drugs to treat infections, researchers found.

Hospitals' broad used of antimicrobial drugs for resistant pathogens is common, researchers found, and the industry must work harder to understand the settings and indications to reduce antimicrobial drug use.

Broad-spectrum antibiotics increase the risk of a patient developing an infection caused by bacteria that's resistant to antibiotics, Eli Perencevich, an infectious disease epidemiologist at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, told WebMD. "In general, it's better to have someone on a narrow-spectrum antibiotic that treats the specific bacteria causing the infection," he said.

Previous research found there's a strong relationship between time in the hospital and time to infection from a multidrug resistant pathogen, FierceHealthcare reported. Each hospitalization day increased the likelihood of infection with an MDR pathogen by 1 percent.

To learn more:
- here's the study
- read the WebMD article