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Are You an Antibiotics Steward or Deadbeat?

By Philip Betbeze  
   November 20, 2015


The data is powerful. The same Pediatrics paper says that more than two million Americans develop antibiotic resistant infections each year and more than 23,000 die from them. The results are harrowing. They're chronicled in the individual stories of pain, loss and even death that result from the superbugs that have developed much more quickly than they should due to antibiotics overuse.

Deveny mentioned Daniel Fells, once a starting tight end for the New York Giants, now likely never to play again thanks to a deadly MRSA infection he got from a cortisone shot. In fact, he's lucky to be alive. Here's another one about former Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New York Giants kicker Lawrence Tynes.

Yes, the investments in education and clinical standards to combat antibiotics overuse can be expensive and the return on those investments can be hard to impossible to quantify. But if antibiotic resistance is to become less of an issue, they must be made.

And for organizations that are busily trying to shift and mold incentives toward the idea of improving the health of entire populations, such investments are table stakes. You can't say you're improving the health of your community if you're not serious about attacking antibiotic resistance organizationally.

If you need any more convincing of how much suffering antibiotic resistance causes, look no further than here. Remember, these are the survivors.

A Cruel Outcome
Here's a personal story of one of my good friends from college who isn't. Albert is not his real name, but I'll use it here. Albert befriended me the first day I showed up at my freshman residence hall in college. He brought me home once or twice when he knew I was going to be alone for the weekend. I met his parents, his sister. I was a groomsman in his wedding. We kept in touch over the years. He called me this June to catch up and told me that after he experienced headaches and vision problems, his doctors discovered a mass in his brain.

They found out it was malignant after the surgery. But the cancer didn't kill him. Albert died this summer due to a preventable surgical site infection. He's a statistic now, but less than six months ago, he was a successful 45-year-old electrical engineer, with a wife and two kids to whom he was devoted.

Philip Betbeze is the senior leadership editor at HealthLeaders.

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