Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America
Contact: Kristy Weinshel / / 703-684-1008

Effective Antibiotic Controls Needed to Combat Growing Threat of Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria

Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America stresses importance of CDC report linking healthcare-associated infections and antibiotic resistance

Arlington, VA (March 3, 2016) — Today the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released significant new data showing a reduction in healthcare-associated infections (HAIs), but warning about the persistence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the United States. The Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America, representing leaders in infection prevention and control, urges all healthcare facilities and healthcare systems to establish and fully fund robust infection-prevention programs to protect patients from the spread of these lethal pathogens.

“Healthcare systems and clinicians must act urgently to address antibiotic resistance. Systems with strong infection-prevention efforts and antibiotic stewardship programs report marked improvements in patient outcomes and cost savings,” said Louise M. Dembry, MD, MBA, president of SHEA.  “Each year, 2 million people contract antibiotic resistant infections and approximately 23,000 die from these infections. By prioritizing investments in infection prevention, we can work together toward delivering safer, more efficient care.”

CDC’s Vital Signs report, along with data from its latest annual progress report on HAI prevention, cites tremendous progress that many acute care hospitals have achieved through effective infection prevention, especially with central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSIs). Between 2008 and 2014 there was a 50 percent decrease in CLABSIs in acute care hospitals. In spite of that progress, 1 in 6 CLABSIs are still caused by urgent or serious antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
CDC also found that of the catheter- and procedure-related HAIs contracted by very sick patients in long-term acute care hospitals, 1 in 4 of those infections were caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Another serious infection, Clostridium difficile (C. difficile), caused almost half a million infections in the United States in 2011 alone. However, new data shows that progress has been made in decreasing hospital-onset C. difficile infections by 8 percent between 2011 and 2014.

Overuse of antibiotics causes harm to patients by putting them at risk for development of antibiotic-resistant infections and HAIs such as C. difficile. Curbing unnecessary use of antibiotics is one of the best defenses against the spread of drug-resistant infections. To eliminate inappropriate use of these drugs, antimicrobial stewardship programs and interventions are needed to help guide prescribers’ understanding of when antibiotics are necessary, when antibiotics should not be used, and what the best treatment choices are for a particular patient.

“We know how to prevent many HAIs. Healthcare facilities and healthcare systems need to invest in keeping patients safe by ensuring infection prevention best practices  are implemented and followed and stewardship strategies are in place to help clinicians make informed decisions about the antibiotics they prescribe for their patients." said Dembry.

SHEA is a recognized leader in advocating for healthcare epidemiology and infection prevention and promoting judicious antibiotic use. 


SHEA is a professional society representing physicians and other healthcare professionals around the world with expertise and passion in healthcare epidemiology, infection prevention, and antimicrobial stewardship. SHEA's mission is to prevent and control healthcare-associated infections, improve the use of antibiotics in healthcare settings, and advance the field of healthcare epidemiology. SHEA improves patient care and healthcare personnel safety in all healthcare settings through the critical contributions of healthcare epidemiology and improved antibiotic use. The society leads this specialty by promoting science and research, advocating for effective policies, providing high-quality education and training, and developing appropriate guidelines and guidance in practice. Visit SHEA online at, and @SHEA_Epi.