Government and Regulations

Some Progress in Shutting Down Superbugs

Although the fight against superbugs has seen some victories, the CDC says that’s not enough.


There’s some good news in the battle against “superbugs” in acute care hospitals. For example, central line–associated bloodstream infections were down 50% and surgical site infections declined 17% between 2008 and 2014. Plus, some “progress” toward reducing in catheter-associated urinary tract infections was seen between 2009 and 2014. Hospital-onset infections caused by Clostridium difficile, the most common bacteria responsible for hospital-acquired infections (HAIs), dropped by 8% between 2011 and 2014.

However, “antibiotic-resistant HAIs are a threat to all patients,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In its Vital Signs report, the CDC lists 6 bacteria that are among the “most deadly”: carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, ESBL-producing Enterobacteriaceae (extended-spectrum β-lactamases), vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus, multidrug-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and multidrug-resistant Acinetobacter. Those bacteria cause 1 in 7 catheter- and surgery-related HAIs in acute care hospitals, and 1 in 4 infections in long-term acute care hospitals.


“Doctors and health care facilities have the power to protect patients—no one should get sick while trying to get well,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH. The CDC’s report calls on health care professionals to continue prevention efforts. “For clinicians, prevention means isolating patients when necessary,” said Clifford McDonald, MD, associate director for science at CDC’s Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion. The Vital Signs report advises being aware of antibiotic resistance patterns in facilities, following recommendations for preventing infections, and prescribing antibiotics correctly (including reassessing and stopping appropriately). It also urges health care facility CEOs and administrators to establish a stewardship program and enroll their hospitals to submit data to the CDC’s Antimicrobial Use and Resistance Module to target improvements (

Along with the annual progress report, the CDC has released the Antibiotic Resistance Patient Safety Atlas (, a new web app with interactive data on HAIs. National, regional, and state maps show the percentage of resistance over time using data reported to the National Healthcare Safety Network by more than 4,000 health care facilities.

Recommended Reading

A Better Postexposure Anthrax Vaccine?
Federal Practitioner
New Commission on Care Report: VA Too Broken to Fix
Federal Practitioner
HPV Vaccine Uptake Low Among Native Americans
Federal Practitioner
"Call to Action" on Veteran Suicide Yields Policy Shifts
Federal Practitioner
April 2016 Digital Edition
Federal Practitioner

Related Articles