Topic: Medical Malpractice
Antibiotics are a valuable tool in combating a number of illnesses. Our dependence on these drugs, however, has given scientists legitimate cause for concern, as strains of bacteria become increasingly resistant to antibiotics. In September, a Nevada woman became the most recent victim of a bacterial strain resistant to all FDA-approved antibiotics in the U.S. The CDC estimates that there are two million cases of antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections each year, about 23,000 of which are fatal. This could be just the beginning, as more infections caused by superbugs are deemed incurable.
Although she was not the first, the Nevada woman was one of relatively few cases of a pan-resistant bacteria. The female had been hospitalized multiple times during a trip to India for a broken leg and a bone infection, and in August, she was taken to an acute-care facility in Nevada with symptoms of sepsis. She was diagnosed with a strain of carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) called Klebsiella pneumoniae, which can cause a number of illnesses such as pneumonia, blood stream infection, or meningitis. The patient passed away when she went into septic shock.
PROLONGED EXPOSURE TO ANTIBIOTICS RESULTS IN RESISTANT BACTERIA
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the woman was tested against 26 antibiotics, none of which proved effective. CREs are a notoriously dangerous family of germs, which includes common E. coli, that promote antibiotic resistance. As antibiotic use becomes increasingly common, germs mutate, until stronger antibiotics are needed to combat them. Bacteria are mutating faster than we can generate new drugs, however. Applications for new antibiotics are actually decreasing; the FDA approved nearly 20 applications between 1980 and 1984, but fewer than five in a similar period from 2005 to 2009.
Many doctors cite the overuse of antibiotics as a source of the issue. Long hospitalizations and exposure to a variety of antibiotics are known to increase a person’s risk of developing a resistant infection. Experts in antibiotic resistance encourage physicians and patients to ask whether an antibiotic is really necessary and, if so, what is the shortest amount of time it can be used. Some say that policy changes are needed to regulate how antibiotics are prescribed and slow the progression of superbugs.
Superbug-related fatalities could reach 10 million per year by 2050 if bacteria continue to mutate at their current rate. The World Health Organization considers antibiotic resistance one of the most significant threats to global health. There is much work to be done to effectively combat this threat; until then, doctors must provide the best care possible with the treatments that are available.
NEW JERSEY MEDICAL MALPRACTICE LAWYERS AT EICHEN CRUTCHLOW ZASLOW & MCELROY, LLP ADVOCATE FOR MEDICAL NEGLIGENCE VICTIMS
If you or a loved one has suffered from an antibiotic-resistant infection, call the New Jersey medical malpractice lawyers at Eichen Crutchlow Zaslow & McElroy, LLP. Our knowledgeable, dedicated lawyers will thoroughly review the facts of your case to determine if medical negligence was a factor in your illness and win you the compensation to which you are entitled. With offices conveniently located in Edison, Red Bank, and Toms River, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout the state. Call us today at 732-777-0100 or contact us online for a free consultation with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer.