The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is launching an electronic tracking system allowing hospitals to monitor the use of antibiotics. Until now, the CDC was only able to track antibiotic use in doctor’s offices.
Antibiotics are powerful tools in combating bacterial diseases, but their overuse contributes to antibiotic resistance. It is estimated that at least 50 percent of antibiotic use in U.S. hospitals is inappropriate.
“Antibiotic use leads to antibiotic resistance, which is a major public health problem,” said CDC Director Thomas Frieden, M.D., in a news release. “Hospitals and other health care facilities should monitor the antibiotics used in their facilities. This new system is a powerful tool that will enhance providers’ ability to monitor and improve patterns of antibiotic use so that these essential drugs will still be effective in years to come.”
The new tracking system is part of a CDC safety network, which monitors infections in over 4,800 hospitals.
The CDC also announced plans for a pilot program to test strategies to avoid the overuse and misuse of antibiotics in hospitals. The program was designed in collaboration with the Institutes for Healthcare Improvement. Eight pilot hospitals were chosen to represent a broad range of care settings — from the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles to a small 69-bed community hospital in Tallassee, Alabama.
The CDC announcements coincide with the start of Get Smart About Antibiotics Week, which aims to highlight the dangers of overusing antibiotics.
According to a recent study published in the journal Pediatrics, pediatricians in the United States write more than 10 million unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions for children every year. One in every four prescriptions were given to children with respiratory conditions that probably do not call for antibiotics, such as bronchitis, the flu, asthma and allergies. Misuse of antibiotics can lead to the creation of “superbug” bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics.
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