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What if antibiotics don’t work?

Clinicians increasingly face this terrifying question.

Superbugs — or drug-resistant organisms — are growing at an alarming rate.

An ear infection, knee scrape, root canal, shoulder replacement — we hear more and more stories about how infections can lead to long hospitalizations, even death, because antibiotics didn’t work. According to CDC’s 2019 report on antibiotic resistance, every year nearly three million antibiotic-resistant infections occur, with more than 35,900 deaths.

At almost 100 deaths per day, this rapidly growing public health threat clearly has far-reaching impacts.

Advances in surgery have enabled us to live longer, higher quality lives. However, access to working antibiotics may soon drive decisions on whether we choose to undergo any procedure because of the inherent risk of a drug-resistant infection.

As a major international travel hub, New York State battles every day on the front lines of emerging drug-resistance in the U.S. While each drug-resistant infection poses unique challenges, our providers possess unmatched expertise cultivated through experience leading the response to emerging and novel infections such as Zika, Ebola and now Candida auris.

New York’s hospitals, nursing homes and other providers across the care continuum, together with the public health and agriculture sectors, work tirelessly to ensure we have access to life-saving antimicrobials in future years.

Antimicrobial stewardship is critical to the drug-resistance fight

November 18 - 24 is U.S. Antibiotic Awareness Week — a time to remind us that antibiotics must be used wisely because the misuse and overuse of them drives antimicrobial resistance.

Healthcare organizations across the care continuum are implementing antibiotic stewardship programs. CDC data show that New York state hospitals are establishing antimicrobial stewardship programs at a significantly higher rate than the national average. Nearly every hospital and health system in New York has participated in HANYS’ Antibiotic Stewardship Collaborative programming, an initiative launched in 2015 to help providers across the care continuum advance this important work.

New York state outlined a roadmap to combat antimicrobial resistance in collaboration with key partners, including healthcare providers and HANYS. They adopted this statewide, collaborative approach to ensure that drug-resistant infections are quickly identified and contained.

The agricultural industry is also fighting drug resistance by improving how antimicrobials and fungicides are used to manage crops and livestock.

This work continues – and you can help

Despite successes, healthcare providers face persistent challenges, including shifting consumer expectations about prescribing antibiotics.

You can support these efforts, too by understanding antibiotics are not always the answer, they do not work on viruses, are only needed for some bacterial infections and you must take them exactly as prescribed.

Together, we can stem the tide of drug resistance.

Want to learn more on this issue? Listen to HANYS’ three 15-minute recorded conversations featuring federal and state leaders in antibiotic stewardship and epidemiology.