Antibiotic-resistant infections are up but deaths are down
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate 35,000 Americans die from antibiotic-resistant infections each year. This number is down from 2013 when the death toll was estimated to be around 44,000. The number of drug-resistant infections each year are estimated at over 2.8 million.
According to research, drug resistant staph bacteria tested in United States hospitals went from 2 percent in 1974 to 59 percent in 2008, a very steep and concerning climb. While research into new ways of fighting drug-resistant infections show some potential, the best treatment by far is to not get infected in the first place.
Prehospital medicine plays a role in this battle. EMS workers must know proper infection control methods and use them – both for staff and patients. For example, when did you last disinfect your stethoscope? A 2007 study of 50 stethoscopes used by EMS personnel found nearly one in three tested positive for MRSA.
EMS1 lists out steps healthcare providers can take to prevent infections and protect themselves and patients:
- ĵ Use proper personal protective equipment at every opportunity.
- ĵ Wash hands properly and often.
- ĵ Clean all medical devices and all emergency vehicles routinely.
- ĵ Establish isolation protocols with all involved healthcare organizations.
The CDC also has an Infection Control Assessment Tool that may be useful for healthcare facilities and providers.