Nearly two million people catch bacterial infections in U.S. hospitals every year and 90,000 of them die---seven times as high as a decade ago as germs become immune to almost every antibiotic developed during the past 60 years.
The most common is the Staphylococcus bacteria. Worldwide, some two billion people carry these bacteria; up to 53 million people are thought to harbor antibiotic-resistant forms. On average, people who contract Staph infections stay in the hospital three times as long and face five times the risk of dying.
But these infections are becoming more prevalent outside hospitals. Antibiotic-resistant Staph infections increased almost sevenfold from 2001 to 2005, researchers reported last week in the Archives of Internal Medicine. Contagions such as tuberculosis, pneumonia and bubonic plague also are becoming immune to the drugs that once kept them at bay.
The life-and-death struggle inside the patient is driven by the same evolutionary forces of natural selection and adaptation that are causing a pandemic of drug-resistant diseases worldwide. The emergence of such immunity among infectious diseases is one of the most well-documented problems in modern public health. The speed of natural selection in fostering antibiotic resistance is exceptionally fast.
Source: Science Journal, The Wall Street Journal, June 8, 2007
The Appointment is a brief video illustrating the importance of doctor-patient communication.