A new study has found antibiotic use in hospitals has stayed the same despite warnings that over prescribing could lead to drug resistance.
The study recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Internal Medicine, examined patient data from 552 U.S. hospitals, collected between 2006 and 2012. It found that more than 55 percent of 34 million patients were prescribed an antibiotic.
“Overall antibiotic use did not change significantly over time,” the study wrote. “This trend is worrisome in light of the rising challenge of antibiotic resistance.”
The use of some broad spectrum antibiotics increased significantly, according to the study.
Dr. Stuart Cohen with the University of California Davis Health System calls it "Darwinism at its finest." As more antibiotics are consumed, the more bacteria are building immunity to the drugs.
"We can't keep going on like this if we are going to expect people to have the same outcomes 20 years from now," Cohen said.
Dr. Cohen specializes in clinical infectious diseases and said there are several ways to curb the issue, such as physicians prescribing only when they have to, patients asking about alternatives to antibiotics and everyone using common hygiene practices to prevent the spread of illness.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), patients who are unnecessarily exposed to antibiotics are placed at risk for serious adverse events with no clinical benefit.
An estimated 23,000 people die each year as a result of being infected with an antibiotic-resistant organism, according to the CDC, of which an estimated two million people are infected.
The United States White House has called the issue “a serious threat to public health and the economy” in a strategy to combat antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
On Sept. 21 the United Nations General Assembly will meet at its headquarters in New York City to discuss “Antimicrobial Resistance” with input coming from all areas, to improve awareness of the issue.