The Task Force Helps CDC Tackle Antibiotic Resistance

In response to the growing threat of antibiotic resistance, The Task Force’s Public Health Informatics Institute (PHII) is helping the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) evaluate how to increase use of a voluntary national reporting system to track antibiotic use and cases of resistance in healthcare settings.

Each year, antibiotic-resistant infections sicken more than two million Americans, at least 23,000 of whom die from these illnesses. Research suggests that at least 30 percent of antibiotic therapies prescribed in outpatient settings are unnecessary, which is contributing to the growing problem of resistance.

The National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) is a health care-associated infection tracking system that includes a module for reporting and analyzing antibiotic use and cases of resistance. For this project, PHII will evaluate how healthcare providers currently use the module and identify barriers to its use by others.

“Greater use of the NHSN will help CDC understand the extent of the problem of overuse and misuse of antibiotics in healthcare settings,” said PHII Project Director Nosipho Beaufort, MPH. “We also expect healthcare providers who use the system can better manage their use of antibiotics.”

Some healthcare settings have already seen benefits from using the NHSN to track antibiotic prescriptions. After using the system for only one year, 11 neonatal intensive care units in Oregon and southwest Washington reduced antibiotic use by 23 percent.

“We believe that it even just the act of reporting antibiotic use can help lower antibiotic use by making providers more aware of their practices,” said Beaufort.

Germs that are resistant to antibiotics and other medicines are becoming an increasing threat to global health. By 2050, antimicrobial resistance could claim an estimated 10 million deaths globally, according to a recent report. The United Nations General Assembly took up the issue in 2016 when world leaders committed to take a broad, coordinated approach to addressing the problem.

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