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Warning on the Overuse of Antibiotics



HILLSBOROUGH, NJ – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recently released a report detailing the dangers of the overuse of antibiotics. The physicians at ID Care, New Jersey’s leading infectious disease specialists, have long been aware of this issue and have a responsibility to communicate the CDC findings to the citizens of New Jersey.


The problem faced by the medical community in dealing with overprescribing is the general perception that antibiotic therapy is a safe, inexpensive, and easy to prescribe and highly effective for many different problems. Although it is very clear that antibiotic treatment, administered early, is a critically important practice that saves lives under the correct circumstances, as the report illustrates, there are important dangers and costs to antibiotic over or miss prescribing.


Generally, antibiotics are a safe method of treating infectious disease. That being said, the CDC report points out that one complication of antibiotic therapy is clostridium difficile, or C.diff, bacteria best know for causing antibiotic associated diarrhea. C.diff is currently at epidemic levels in the United States with over 250,000 cases in hospitals causing nearly 14,000 deaths and $9 billion in additional medical costs.


A contributing issue to the problem is that many antibiotics now in use in hospitals are generic, reducing the cost of antibiotic therapy and increasing the use and associated complications. In addition to the proliferation of C.diff, the CDC report highlights the impact of antimicrobial therapy on the development of ‘superbugs’ bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics. This is an issue of ‘natural selection’ when antibiotics are overused with the complications resulting in dramatic increases in the cost of care.


The negative impact of improper overuse of antibiotic therapy results from two additional critical factors; clinicians with all types of training prescribing antibiotics and the ability to purchase antibiotics over the counter in many countries outside of the United States.


The solution to this problem is two-fold; addressing the over-prescribing of antibiotics and the correct diagnosing of conditions to ensure that antibiotic therapy is applied in appropriate instances and correct procedures are applied to conditions that will not be improved by the use of antibiotics.


The CDC report states that more than 50% of hospitalized patients receive antibiotic therapy with more than 1/3 receiving it unnecessarily. It is important to note that viral infections, colds, and flus do not require antibiotic therapy. To rectify the problem, it is imperative that medical professionals make the correct diagnosis in order to provide the correct care. A clinician skilled in diagnosis and consequences of serious infection will know what to start, how long to treat, and when to stop antibiotics treatment safely.


The CDC report outlines the steps necessary to improve antibiotic use in hospitals. The Antibiotic Stewardship Checklist provides a roadmap to impove antibiotic therapy. The checklist includes the responsibilities of seanior leadeship, clinical leadership, pharmacy leadership, and team members to ensure success. The checklist is available at http://www.cdc.gov/getsmart/healthcare/implementation/checklist.html and the entire CDC report may be found at http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm63e0304a1.htm?s_cid=mm63e0304a1_w


The medical staff at ID care may be reached at 908-281-0221 or www.idcare.com



ID CARE is the largest organization in NJ dedicated to the diagnosis, treatment,and prevention of infectious diseases and the second largest of its kind in the country, with 32 Board Certified physicians.  The practice has eight outpatient locations in Hillsborough, Somerset, Randolph, Cedar Knolls, Old Bridge, West Long Branch, Pennington, and Wayne, New Jersey with medical staff participation in over 100 medical facilities in Northern and Central New Jersey.


ID CARE provides management and care of patients with all infections including sepsis, Lyme Disease, cellulitis, viral hepatitis, HIV, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, post-surgical infections, slow healing wounds, fever, among others.  Its travel service provides comprehensive travel medicine including medical consultation, vaccinations, precautionary advice, and healthcare supplies for international travelers.  We provide the Right Specialist to get the Right Care.


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