The Chief Medical Officer for England has warned policy makers that immediate action is needed to protect patients from the potentially disastrous effects of the antibiotic resistance. Dame Sally Davies stressed that procedures as straightforward as hip replacement could become extremely dangerous due to the possibility of contracting an infectious disease which increasingly useless antibiotics would not treat.
The overuse of antibiotics over the last 70 years means that bacteria are now increasingly resistant to certain drugs. We have already seen penicillin become an ineffective treatment method for various bacterial infections and it is feared that many other antibiotics will become useless. The MRSA outbreak has demonstrated that a range of terrible conditions can arise if drugs become ineffective.
Unfortunately, whilst multiple infectious diseases are discovered every year, a very limited number of new antibiotics have been developed in recent times. Pharmaceutical manufacturers have struggled to find new anti-bacterial drugs and as a result patients have had to settle for drugs which either fail to adequately solve the problem, or leave them with nasty side effects.
The Department of Health is widely expected to release a five year plan designed to confront the issue of antibiotic resistance in the coming months. Included in the plan will be measures to improve the education that NHS staff members receive regarding antibiotics so that they are only prescribed when they are really needed. Means of better tracking how often antibiotics are prescribed will also be included. Furthermore, ways of improving research into new antibiotics will be explored.
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