There are many stories of patients who suffer when we make errors prescribing antibiotics. 75-year-old Bob Totsch from Coshocton, Ohio, went in for heart bypass surgery with every expectation of a good outcome.
Instead, he developed a surgical site infection caused by MRSA. Given a variety of antibiotics, he developed the deadly diarrheal infection C. difficile, went into septic shock, and died.
A tragic story and, probably, a preventable death.
Today, we’ve published a report about the need to improve antibiotic prescribing in hospitals. Antibiotic resistance is one of the most urgent health threats facing us today. Antibiotics can save lives.
But when they’re not prescribed correctly, they put patients at risk for preventable allergic reactions, resistant infections, and deadly diarrhea. And they become less likely to work in the future.
About half of hospital patients receive an antibiotic during the course of their stay. But doctors in some hospitals prescribe three times more antibiotics than doctors in other hospitals, even though patients were receiving care in similar areas of each hospital.
Among 26 medical-surgical wards, there were 3-fold differences in prescribing rates of all antibiotics, including antibiotics that place patients at high risk for developing Clostridium difficile infections (CDI).
CDC has estimated that there are about 250,000 CDIs in hospitalized patients each year resulting in 14,000 deaths.