Fighting superbugs: 4 recommendations from Consumer Reports

June 30, 2015

According to the August issue of Consumer Reports, the overuse and misuse of antibiotics is leading to the strengthening and spread of dangerous infections that are becoming resistant to these drugs. Here are four recommendations Consumer Reports has for the medical community.

Experts including the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization and White House say antibiotics are becoming ineffective because of widespread overuse and misuse requiring urgent action.

According to “The Rise of Superbugs” from Consumer Reports, the overuse and misuse of antibiotics is leading to the strengthening and spread of dangerous infections that are becoming resistant to these drugs.  

Gill“The overuse of antibiotics has created virulent superbugs that cause deadly infections that cannot be controlled even with multiple drugs,” said Lisa Gill, deputy health editor for Consumer Reports. “Antibiotic-resistant bacteria can develop from antibiotic use on farms, in hospitals, or in doctor’s or dentist’s offices.”

 “To control the problem, the United States must dramatically reduce its use of antibiotics in the next 5 years and accelerate prevention of superbug infection outbreaks,” Gill said.

Consumer Reports has 4  specific recommendations.

 

 

#1. Patients should think twice about the need for antibiotics. One way consumers can help is not demand antibiotics for every sniffle. A recent Consumer Reports poll showed 1 in 5 people who got an antibiotic asked the doctor for it.

“Antibiotics offer significant benefits but they are not harmless -their use can lead to deadly infections and they can have serious side effects,” Gill said.

 

#2. Doctors and dentists must stop prescribing antibiotics when they aren’t necessary.

“One way healthcare providers can help is to stop prescribing antibiotics to treat illnesses,” Gill said.

The CDC estimates that up to half of all antibiotics used in this country are prescribed unnecessarily or inappropriately.

 

#3. Hospitals must take steps to reduce the number of superbug infections. One way hospitals can help is consistently following basic infection control practices like hand hygiene, isolating patients with superbug infections, and using barrier protections with patients with superbug infections.

 

#4. Farmers need to stop giving antibiotics to farm animals to increase their growth. About 80% of the antibiotics used in the United States are fed to chickens, cows and other animals.