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Role of infection control in combating antibiotic resistance

Whitelaw, Andrew Christopher (2015)

CITATION: Whitelaw, A. C. 2015. Role of infection control in combating antibiotic resistance. South African Medical Journal, 105(5):421, doi:10.7196/SAMJ.9650.

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Infection control has been identified as one of the key interventions in controlling the threat of antibiotic resistance. Reducing the transmission of multidrug-resistant organisms (MDROs) reduces the need for broad-spectrum antibiotics in particular, while interventions that decrease the risk of infection have an impact on the use of any antibiotic. Hand hygiene remains the cornerstone of decreasing the transmission of MDROs. Alcohol-based hand rubs are a cheap, effective and convenient means of performing hand hygiene. Patients colonised or infected with MDROs should be placed on contact precautions, although implementation remains challenging in resourcelimited environments. Screening for certain MDROs may play a role in curbing transmission of these organisms. If implemented, screening must be part of a comprehensive infection control strategy. In resource-limited settings, the costs and potential benefits of screening programmes need to be carefully weighed up. Care bundles have been shown to reduce the incidence of common healthcare-associated infections, including catheter-associated urinary tract infection, ventilator-associated pneumonia, central line-associated bloodstream infection and surgical site infection. These bundles are relatively inexpensive, and can play an important role in reducing antibiotic use and improving clinical outcomes.

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