NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Staggering new numbers show how many people die each year in the United States from antibiotic resistant infections. Those results come from a CDC report that even has doctors worried.
Link: More from the CDC
Christian Lillis still struggles with how his mother Peggy died. Nine years ago, she was prescribed antibiotics for a root canal. Days later, she died from C. diff, an intestinal infection that can occur after using antibiotics.
“I don’t think you can absorb that kind of loss all at once,” Lillis said.
C. diff is one of the CDC’s top five urgent antibiotic resistance threats. Eighteen germs in total are listed in the new report, which finds antibiotic resistance to more than three million infections and 48,000 deaths each year.
“Ultimately we all want to avoid getting an infection in the first place, but if we do get sick we want to make sure there is an effective treatment,” said Michael Craig, senior advisor at CDC for antibiotic resistance.
Overuse of antibiotics is one cause of drug resistance.
The CDC says hospitals have made significant progress in preventing infections, but more work is needed.
“We need to improve infection control, we need to improve sanitation,” Craig said. “We need to improve the way we use antibiotics… and we need new drugs.”
Dr. Pria Nori runs a program at Montefiore Health System that monitors antibiotic use. She says patients should always ask questions about prescriptions.
“Are there any alternatives to the condition I have or are antibiotics absolutely the answer. If so, whats the shortest most effective duration I can take those antibiotics,” Dr. Nori said.
Still, doctors point out that there are times when antibiotics are necessary, even life-saving. They say that patients or parents of sick children often want antibiotics for conditions like viral infections that antibiotics are not effective against.
As Dr. Nori advises, ask your doctor if you really need an antibiotic, and what’s the shortest effective treatment course for your condition.
In addition to cutting back on antibiotic overuse, the CDC says we also need new vaccines, better tests and other tools to combat the problem so doctors can better treat patients or prevent infections in the first place.