Antibiotic resistance is one of the world’s most pressing public health problems.
Every time a person takes antibiotics, sensitive bacteria are killed, but resistant ones may be left to grow and multiply.
Overuse of antibiotics is a major modifiable cause of increases in drug-resistant bacteria.
Overuse and misuse of antibiotics threatens the usefulness of these important drugs. Decreasing inappropriate antibiotic use is a key strategy to control antibiotic resistance.
Antibiotic resistance in children and older adults are of particular concern because these age groups have the highest rates of antibiotic use.
Antibiotic resistance can cause significant suffering for people who have common infections that once were easily treatable with antibiotics.
When antibiotics do not work, infections often last longer, cause more severe illness, require more doctor visits or longer hospital stays, and involve more expensive and toxic medications. Some resistant infections can even cause death.
Antibiotic Prescribing: Attitudes, Behaviors, Trends and Cost
At least 30% of antibiotic courses prescribed in the outpatient setting are unnecessary, meaning that no antibiotic is needed at all. Most of this unnecessary use is for acute respiratory conditions, such as colds, bronchitis, sore throats caused by viruses, and even some sinus and ear infections 1.
Total inappropriate antibiotic use (which includes unnecessary antibiotic use plus inappropriate antibiotic selection, dosing, and duration) may approach 50% of all outpatient antibiotic use 2, 3, 4.
The number of antibiotic prescriptions written for children has decreased in recent years 2, 5, 6., but almost 30% of antibiotics prescribed to children are still unnecessary 1.
Antibiotics cause 1 out of 5 emergency department visits for adverse drug events (ADEs) 7,8. Antibiotics are the most frequent cause of ADEs leading to emergency department visits in children, and 7 of the top 10 drugs involved in ADEs leading to emergency room visits are antibiotics 9.
We spent $10.7 billion on antibiotics in the United States in 2009, including $6.5 billion among patients who visit physician offices and $3.5 billion among hospitalized patients 10.