3 million common procedures in England could become ‘life threatening’ without antibiotics
Over 3 million surgeries and cancer treatments could become deadly in England without working antibiotics, Public Health England said.
Based on new data published Tuesday, the health body said common procedures including caesarean sections and hip replacements could carry greater risks if antibiotic resistance and shortages of the drugs continue to grow.
Antibiotics are used to prevent bacterial infections related to a range of medical procedures, such as surgery, but overusing them can lead to the bacteria becoming resistant.
Cancer patients are also more vulnerable as their cancers and treatments, such as chemotherapy, weaken their immune system and in turn their ability to fight infections.
Antibiotic-resistant blood stream infections rose by 35% between 2013 and 2017 in England, from 12,250 to more than 16,500, according to the report. The most common cause of bloodstream infections was E.coli. Of these, 41% were resistant to the most common antibiotic used to treat infections in hospital, co-amoxiclav.
Antibiotic resistance: An old problem with new ramifications
PHE’s research found that 38% of people continued to expect antibiotics to be prescribed when they visited GP’s offices or NHS walk-in centers in 2017, for common illnesses such as a cough, flu or a throat, ear, sinus or chest infection.
“Taking antibiotics just in case may seem like a harmless act but it can have grave consequences for you and your family’s health in future,” said Paul Cosford, medical director at Public Health England.
The agency has re-launched its “Keep Antibiotics Working” campaign to raise awareness of the risks of overusing antibiotics.
“Antibiotics are an essential part of modern medicine, keeping people safe from infection when they are at their most vulnerable,” added Cosford.
“It’s concerning that, in the not too distant future, we may see more cancer patients, mothers who’ve had caesareans and patients who’ve had other surgery facing life threatening situations if antibiotics fail to ward off infections,” Cosford said.
Further reading: CNNEffective Surveillance