5 tips for sustainable antibiotic use

The creation of new antibiotics could help solve the global antimicrobial resistance crisis, but must be paired with more disciplined, strategic use of the medications, according to a paper published in Evolutionary Applications.

Dr. Ben Raymond, a researcher at the University of Exeter in the U.K., authored the paper. He outlined five rules the healthcare industry should abide by to avoid resistance to new antibiotics:

The creation of new antibiotics could help solve the global antimicrobial resistance crisis, but must be paired with more disciplined, strategic use of the medications, according to a paper published in Evolutionary Applications.

Dr. Ben Raymond, a researcher at the University of Exeter in the U.K., authored the paper. He outlined five rules the healthcare industry should abide by to avoid resistance to new antibiotics:

1. Focus on prevention. Clinicians must stay away from heavy use of individual antibiotics for extended lengths, "as using drugs in this manner creates more 'selection pressure' — the conditions microbes need to evolve resistance," Dr. Raymond wrote.

2. Don't count on "fitness costs." Some strategies to fight antibiotic resistance call for stopping use of an antibiotic in the hope that drug-resistant bacteria die off because they are no longer useful, which is known as a "fitness cost." However, Dr. Raymond notes this can be an unreliable strategy that doesn't always lower resistance rates.

3. Limit the supply of bacteria mutations. Bacteria don't typically develop resistance to multiple antibiotics at once, so clinicians should use antibiotic combinations to treat patients, according to Dr. Raymond.

4. Pick short courses over low doses. Short, intensive courses of antibiotics may give microbes less opportunity to mutate than longer courses of low- dose antibiotics.

5. Information is power. Clinicians must know what types of resistance is occurring in their patients or healthcare facility, according to Dr. Raymond. "The more data you have, the better you can design your resistance management programs," he said.

More articles on clinical leadership and infection control:
Joint Commission offers hospitals real-time quality metrics: 4 things to know
32% of hospitals earn 'A' safety grade in Leapfrog's spring update
11 findings on antibiotic resistance

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