Curbing Antibiotic Use In War on 'Superbugs'

The Wall Street Journal reported that hospitals are using new, focused tactics to win the war against "superbugs" -- the bacteria that are outmaneuvering nearly every weapon in the arsenal of drugs long used to fight them. Hospitals are using multidisciplinary teams of pharmacists, infectious-disease specialists and microbiologists to monitor antibiotic use and reduce use of such antibiotics when they become less effective at fighting the superbugs. The current epidemic of MRSA -- a form of drug-resistant staph found in hospitals and places such as school locker rooms -- is just one example of the growing number of bacteria that have developed resistance to common drugs.

According to the New York Times article, two hospital purchasing groups--VHA and Premier, Inc.—are setting up new campaigns to reduce antibiotic use through antimicrobial stewardship programs and data tracking to monitor use of certain drugs. The recent hospital programs come as legislation is pending in Congress to create a federal office of antimicrobial resistance and a public-health network to help detect emerging resistant strains of bacteria before they become a national threat. The National Quality Forum, the leading government advisory body on health-care quality standards, plans to issue revised safety standards for hospitals this fall including a new requirement that hospitals implement antimicrobial stewardship programs, according to Charles Denham, co-chairman of its Safe Practices group.

(SOURCE: Wall Street Journal [Landro], http://wsj.com , accessed September 20, 2008)