Superbugs in Crosshairs at National Meeting

With antibiotic resistance being the focus of conversation, 150 food companies, retailers, and health and animal health stakeholders met in Washington D.C. at the National Action Plan for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria. They included professional organizations, like APIC, and infection control suppliers like CareFusion, Clorox Company and PDI Healthcare.

The most widely publicized outcome of this meeting was the Presidential Memorandum signed by President Barak Obama to create responsible antibiotic-use preferences for meat and poultry. This is planned to be enforced starting in 2018 for poultry, and 2020 for other meats.

The stakeholders also made individual commitments to help to “improve antibiotic use, prescribing and slow the rise of antibiotic resistant infections that threaten modern medicine” a White House press release said. For instance, Hospital Corporation of America plans to develop new clinical decision support and real-time antibiogram tracking to rapidly respond to lab results, catch bug-drug mismatches, implement strategy to prevent health-care associated infections in adult intensive care unit patients, and strengthen national efforts to identify and report cases of antibiotic resistance. This is only of many examples.

While these were two big pieces of the meeting, the five goals of the Tuesday meeting were to:

  • Slow the emergence of resistant bacteria and prevent the spread of resistant infections
  • Strengthen National One-Health Surveillance Efforts to Combat Resistance
  • Advance Development and Use of Rapid and Innovative Diagnostic Tests for Identification and Characterization of Resistant Bacteria
  • Accelerate Basic and Applied Research and Development for New Antibiotics, Other Therapeutics, and Improve International Collaboration and Capacities for Antibiotic-resistance
  • Prevention, Surveillance, Control, and Antibiotic Research and Development

Dr. Rosie Lyles, MHA, MSc, Clorox Healthcare’s Head of Clinical Affairs, participated in the action plan meeting and shared her experience with Surgical Products.

SP: What types of infection control practices were discussed and which ones were determined to be the best approaches?

Lyles: A key theme discussed during the Forum was the need to be transparent and for healthcare professionals from different practice areas to work together toward the common goal of preventing infections and improving antibiotic stewardship. For example, there needs to be better communication between patients and providers every step of the way, from when a doctor prescribes an antibiotic until the patient’s treatment is completed and the data is tracked and recorded. Antibiotic stewardship is a shared responsibility and everyone needs to take ownership of it.

SP: Developing products to combat antibiotic resistant bacteria involves a lot of new technology, science and research. What are the biggest challenges and opportunities you see this creating in the infection control industry?

Lyles: The biggest challenge is that doctors are not always trained in antibiotic stewardship. Each healthcare facility needs to have an antibiotic stewardship program that incorporates information about any new antibiotics coming to market. Recent data from 2014 showed only 42 percent of hospitals have an antibiotic stewardship program that incorporates the CDC’s seven core elements, and that needs to change.

Another challenge is the need for better rapid diagnostics testing. There is an opportunity to develop better rapid diagnostics testing in all healthcare settings, including the ER, outpatient and long-term care settings. Additionally, reimbursement for diagnostics testing or the use of biomarkers could help improve results.

SP: As a participant, what’s the biggest takeaway you have?

Lyles: Before the era of multi-drug resistant organisms (MDROs), if you knew the bug, you knew the drug to use. However, times have changed and MDROs are now a “global threat.” Now is the time to put science before policy and invest in better tools for implementing antibiotic stewardship programs.

I was honored to be a part of the White House Forum on behalf of Clorox Healthcare. As a company, we look forward to working with industry partners to help educate healthcare professionals on best practices and identify solutions to prevent the spread of healthcare-associated infections in their facilities.

SP: Did anything surprise you at this action plan meeting?

Lyles: C. difficile and CRE were mentioned during the Forum as two particularly deadly pathogens that are now harder to prevent and control due to growing antibiotic-resistance. But antibiotic stewardship is only one step in a bundled horizontal approach to prevent the spread of infections. Healthcare facilities should also focus on hand hygiene, thorough daily environmental cleaning and disinfecting, the use of contact precautions, staff education and ongoing training. All of these steps, in conjunction with the prudent use of antibiotics, are critical and work together to help keep patients safe.