By: Dr. Scott Dee
What an interesting morning! I spent a few hours catching up on all the articles recently published in various periodicals on antimicrobial resistance (AMR). This was no easy task due to the vast amount of coverage that this topic is receiving, be it in scientific publications, trade magazines, blogs, websites, social media and the popular press. While I totally agree that AMR is a very important topic and needs to be taken very seriously (as Pipestone is doing with PART), I think it’s important to keep a few things in mind as we process and communicate this information:
- The world is full of expert microbiologists who love to make comment and take credit; however, if you search the internet for their credentials (such as where they went to school and the number of scientific papers they have published) they disappear.
- Many of these publications use confusing language to make their point such, such as “at least partly resistant” and “commonly resistant”…???..whatever this means!
- Some sites provide a “SIGN NOW” approach for readers to respond to the FDA regarding the use of antibiotics in livestock through pre-written text. No thinking or writing is required; all you need to do is type your name and hit send!
- Scare tactics are a common approach using Star Wars-like language that is easy to understand, such as “doomsday scenario”, “the attack of the superbugs”, and “last-resort antibiotics”. These tactics are great for increasing their readership, but not realistic of the scenario.
- Many studies quoted involve one patient which are then described in mysterious terms that send chills down your spine such as “The Nevada Case”.
- Others forget to tell you (unless you actually read the entire article) that the widespread, fulminating MRSA infections described in personnel working in pig farms was actually only diagnosed by a MD in one of the 45 people involved.
- In addition, good news, such as the 80% reduction in cases of Clostridium difficile infections (a bacteria that causes intestinal issues in people and pigs) secondary to basic sanitation (hand-washing) and responsible antibiotic use in English healthcare facilities is downplayed.
I apologize for my rant; however, we need to be very careful as we manage the very important message of AMR with our consumers. Critical evaluation of the literature is the first step as there is a great deal of misinformation that is very readily accessible, easy to read and cleverly marketed.
I need some Excedrin!