Superbugs kill thousands every year, so how can we change the way we use antibiotics?

February 15, 2017

Superbugs kill thousands every year, so how can we change the way we use antibiotics?

Michigan Radio

The warnings about "superbug infections" and over prescribing antibiotics have been getting stronger and louder in recent years. Yet, it's still happening and we are seeing people die from infections that are caused by these so-called superbugs.

IHPI member Scott Flanders, an internist and the director of the Hospitalist Program at U-M, spoke to Stateside about what causes antibiotic resistance how to combat over prescription.

He said a superbug is a bacteria that developed a resistance to the antibiotics used to fight it. In the worst case scenario, the bacteria does not respond to any and all antibiotics. Although this can happen in nature, antibacterial drugs speed up the development of resistance. And the more doctors prescribe antibiotics for a patient, the more resistant naturally-occurring bacteria becomes.

According to Flanders, potentially 30% to 50% of antibiotics prescribed in U.S. hospitals are unneeded. He blames imperfect diagnostic tests; bacterial and viral infections often have the same symptoms. Most doctors cautiously prescribe antibiotics immediately, even though viruses do not respond to antibiotics.

Featured IHPI Members