For a number of years now, the medical community and disease control experts
have expressed alarm at the growing number of bacterial strains that don’t
respond to antibiotic treatment. These so-called “superbugs”
can cause prolonged infections, extended illnesses, loss of limbs and
even death. Ironically, one of the places you’re statistically most
likely to pick up one of these antibiotic-resistant bacteria species is
in the hospitals, the places where the sick go to get well. What is currently happening
in this ongoing struggle to get ahead of these bacteria?
Why We Have a Problem
When antibiotics like penicillin and others were initially developed, illnesses
that were once life-threatening like scarlet fever, pneumonia and strep
throat could now be controlled in a matter of days. Unfortunately, many
doctors became too liberal with these antibiotics, often prescribing them
at the very hint of a possible bacterial infection. Antibiotics also gained
widespread use within our food supply as farmers began giving them to
their livestock as a preventative measure against disease—not considering
that these antibiotics remain and accumulate in the bloodstream, and may
even pass through our food.
In an environment inundated with antibiotics, some bacteria mutated into
new strains that could survive antibiotic treatment. Although these superbugs
first started being discovered
as early as the 1960s, the pharmaceutical community fell behind in analyzing these strains and
developing new antibiotics to combat them. Meanwhile, the new bugs began
to spread unencumbered, wreaking havoc on their victims and baffling doctors
who tried multiple rounds of antibiotics to no avail.
Where We Are Now
Several decades now into this crisis, antibiotic-resistant bacteria continue
to pose a threat to our health—although hope does appear on the
horizon. New scientific advances may soon put these resistors at bay,
and hopefully we will learn a lesson from our previous overuse of bacteria.
At the moment, the bacteria still appear to be winning the war, but that
may soon change.
If you’ve become ill from dangerous bacteria due to hospital neglect
or medical error, our
Washington D.C. medical malpractice attorneys can help. Call us to learn more.