Antibiotic Resistance

Centuries ago, science took a back seat to superstition. Infectious diseases were seen as a sign of supernatural powers or the wrath of God. We now know that it was smallpox that led to the downfall of the Aztecs. We also know that bubonic plague was not a divine punishment, but it was caused by bacteria transmitted by fleas on rodents traveling on trading ships.

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Antibiotic resistance is a growing health threat, not just in the United States, but throughout the world. Health care professionals are facing problems with antibiotic resistance, as well as with resistance to other antimicrobial agents. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) noted in 2019 that “more than 2.8 million antibiotic-resistant infections occur in the United States (US) each year, and more than 35,000 people die as a result.” The CDC lists 18 current threats, with three on the watch list as emerging causes of antibiotic resistance. Many of the bacteria on this threat list are found in chronically stalled wounds. Therefore, wound clinicians must be good stewards of antimicrobial treatments to prevent contributing to an already worsening problem.

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Treatment of chronic and complex wounds complicated by biofilm formed by pathogens remains a tremendous challenge for the health care industry. Recent increases in infections mediated by drug-resistant bacterial and fungal pathogens highlight the need for new antimicrobial therapies. The application of topical agents with antimicrobial and antiseptic properties is gaining traction as an alternative to antibiotic prescriptions.

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Antibiosis: The biological relationship between two organisms in which one living organism kills another to ensure its existence.

Antimicrobial resistance: The process that occurs when bacteria, fungi, and parasites (microorganisms) change over time and no longer respond to antimicrobial medications. This resistance makes it more difficult to treat infections and increases the risk of spreading diseases that result in severe illness and death.

Antimicrobial stewardship plan: An antimicrobial stewardship plan should seek to prevent wound infection in the first place and should promote ideal antibiotic use in clinically infected patients while also preventing use of antibiotics in non-infected patients.

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Antibiotic resistance is considered a significant public health concern by multiple international organizations. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that approximately 35,000 deaths occur in the United States each year related to antibiotic resistance. Moreover, the agency predicts that millions more deaths will occur in the coming decades. By 2050, it is estimated that the number of deaths resulting from drug-resistant infections will surpass 10 million, which equates to one person dying every three seconds. The total global cost to economic output related to these deaths is estimated at US $100 trillion.

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Wound healing is often accompanied by bacterial infection. Many clinicians use antibiotics to treat wound infections. However, the overreliance on antibiotics is becoming an increasing concern for many global health organizations because it contributes to widespread antibiotic resistance. Excessive use of synthetic antibiotics leads to drug resistance, which poses a substantial threat to human health.

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Bioburden: Bioburden is the number of microorganisms in a wound, and a high bioburden can cause delayed wound healing.

Biofilm: Biofilms are usually composed of mixed strains of bacteria, fungi, yeasts, algae, microbes, and other cellular debris that adhere to the wound surface.

Epibole: Epibole refers to rolled or curled-under closed wound edges. These rolled edges are thickened epidermis that may be callused, dry, scaly, and/or hyperkeratotic. When epibole is present in a wound, it signals to the body that the wound has healed, even though the wound remains open. Epibole must be resolved to allow the wound to close.

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In a recent survey, we asked our WoundSource Editorial Advisory Board members what outdated wound care practices they continue to see in the field. Depending on what health care setting clinicians work in, there are specific guidelines, policies, and procedures that may impact standard of care. Our board members come from a variety of backgrounds, so their answers varied based on their areas of expertise, but there were a few practices that they could all agree should be left in the past. Do you still use any of these?

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Antimicrobial Stewardship Programs

By the WoundSource Editors

Antimicrobial resistance is one of the greatest health threats of the 21st century. The current number of deaths attributed to drug-resistant infections is 700,000, yet this figure is expected to grow more than 10-fold by 2050. Although the rapid administration of antibiotics to treat infections often reduces morbidity and saves the lives of many patients each year, it has also been shown that up to 40% of all antibiotics prescribed are either unnecessary or inappropriate, which contributes to the growing problem of antibiotic resistance.

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Antimicrobial Stewardship

By The WoundSource Editors

Antimicrobial stewardship is becoming an increasing concern for nearly all clinical professionals. Antimicrobial resistance is often considered one of the most serious health threats of the 21st century. It is estimated that currently approximately 700,000 people die each year of drug-resistant infections, and experts predict that this figure could increase to 10 million deaths each year by 2050. On a global scale, antimicrobial resistance compromises the ability of clinicians to treat infectious diseases and thereby undermines many of the recent advances in modern medicine.