Sepsis Alliance Survey Reveals Antimicrobial Resistance and Antibiotic Resistance Considered “Major Problem” to Healthcare Professionals
November 18, 2022
Findings on Antimicrobial Resistance Awareness and Strategies Among Infectious Disease Physicians and Pharmacists.
Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) is a World Health Organization (WHO) top-10 global public health threat facing humanity, yet only 52% of adults worldwide are aware of the term and fewer understand the potential effects of AMR. In September 2022, Sepsis Alliance heralded a survey conducted by Radius Global Market Research of more than 150 Infectious Disease (ID) Physicians and Pharmacists who have practiced medicine for at least one year to determine their knowledge of AMR, their institution’s AMR education, and their views on what might help lessen the global burden of AMR. Keep reading to learn more about the findings of this first-of-its-kind survey.
What is AMR?
Specific strains of bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites that make people sick have adapted in order to avoid the antimicrobials (medicines such as antibiotics, antivirals, antifungals, and antiparasitics) designed to treat them. This is called antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Sepsis, the body’s overwhelming and life-threatening response to an infection, is one of the most significant health complications that can result from antimicrobial resistance. Antimicrobial resistance challenges the treatment of sepsis. As more germs become resistant to antimicrobial medicines used to treat infection, more people are at risk for developing sepsis.
AMR: A Major Problem
The survey found that 90% of ID Physicians and Pharmacists consider antimicrobial resistance to be a “major problem,” when asked to assign a list of items as a major problem, minor problem, or not a problem at all. The list also included overuse of antibiotics (88% viewed as a major problem), the ability to develop new drugs to treat infections (81%), people not getting vaccinated (74%), and people not finishing their complete course of antibiotics (49%).
“Antimicrobial resistance is primarily driven by inappropriate antibiotic use, the lack of new antimicrobials, the lack of complete uptake of vaccinations, and partial completion of antibiotics by patients,” said Cindy Hou, DO, an Infection Control Officer and Sepsis Alliance’s Chief Medical Officer. “These factors are important contributors to AMR and need to be considered when discussing AMR and necessary interventions.”
ID Physicians and Pharmacists assume responsibility for solving AMR: 96% agreed they are very- or somewhat- responsible for solving AMR. Importantly, over 90% have received AMR training yet only 54% are involved in efforts to improve hospital-acquired sepsis.
“One in every 31 hospitalized patients has at least one hospital-acquired infection each day, and any of these can lead to life-threatening sepsis,” said Dr. Hou. “While nearly 96% of ID Physicians and Pharmacists are engaged in AMR, there also needs to be engagement with tackling hospital-acquired sepsis as a means to reduce the chances of patients acquiring multi-drug resistant pathogens.”
Of the facilities represented in this survey, 95% have an antimicrobial stewardship program (ASP) in place but just 68% of the facilities accept ASP recommendations most of the time and only 51% accept ASP education most of the time, including those in compliance with the CDC Core Elements.
According to the CDC, “More than half of antibiotic prescribing for selected events in hospitals was not consistent with recommended prescribing practices….antibiotic stewardship programs (ASPs) can help clinicians improve clinical outcomes and minimize harms by improving antibiotic prescribing.”
At the national level, 53% of respondents believe that increased patient education also offers an opportunity to improve AMR, yet only 10% of facilities currently provide patient education. When asked about barriers to resolving AMR, 32% of respondents said limited patient education is a barrier.
“Sepsis Alliance knows the value of patient education for improved recognition and outcomes,” said Thomas Heymann, Sepsis Alliance President and CEO. “We believe equipping patients to be their own advocates through informed decision-making of antibiotic guidelines, in concert with their healthcare team, will reduce the burden of AMR and improve outcomes.”
The Future of AMR
ASPs provide a variety of methods to combat the overuse of antibiotics in facilities. When selecting what they consider to be a great opportunity for improving AMR, 90% of ID Physicians and Pharmacists believe a decrease in inappropriate utilization of broad-spectrum antibiotics would improve AMR nationwide, and 94% believe it is a great opportunity in their facility. They also believed the availability of rapid diagnostics would improve AMR nationwide (65%) and in their facilities (70%). Finally, improved rapid diagnostics is also a challenge to be addressed with 60% believing it to be an opportunity for improvement at the national level and 66% at the facility level.
Increased availability of rapid diagnostics as well as improved diagnostics could contribute to a decrease in the inappropriate utilization of broad-spectrum antibiotics.
“We clearly see that ID Physicians and Pharmacists are not just looking for education, but for stronger tools to combat AMR in their facility,” Dr. Hou stated. “We see innovators trying to solve this problem and the PASTEUR Act would also increase the availability of new antimicrobials.”
The PASTEUR Act is a proposed piece of federal legislation that seeks to address the growing problem of antimicrobial resistance. It would do so by encouraging the development of new drugs and protecting the ones we already have. There is a lack of knowledge about the PASTEUR Act and the robust antibiotic pipeline it would create with only 36% of respondents familiar with this proposed legislation.
The world is beginning to recognize the threat of AMR, and healthcare facilities are working to reduce the burden with the resources available to them. Click below to review the entire findings report from the survey, and keep an eye out for additional reviews of the findings on Sepsis.org.
Want to learn more about antimicrobial resistance and what you can do to raise awareness? Visit EndSuperbugs.org to learn more.
Funding for this survey was provided through a grant from PhRMA.
About Sepsis Alliance
Sepsis Alliance, the first and leading sepsis organization in the U.S., seeks to save lives and reduce suffering by improving sepsis awareness and care. More than 1.7 million people are diagnosed with sepsis each year in the U.S. with more than 350,000 adults dying and over 50% of survivors experiencing post-sepsis syndrome and other lingering effects, including amputations. At Sepsis Alliance’s founding in 2003, only 19% of U.S. adults were aware of the term “sepsis.” After over ten years of educational efforts for the general public and healthcare professionals through Sepsis.org, Sepsis Alliance Clinical Community, Sepsis Alliance Institute, and Sepsis Alliance Voices, awareness is at 66%. Over 30,000 healthcare professionals across the country have attended sepsis webinars and courses to elevate their practice. Sepsis Alliance is the convener of Sepsis Innovation Collaborative, a multi-stakeholder public/private collaborative dedicated to innovations in sepsis diagnosis and management. Sepsis Alliance is a 501(c)3 nonprofit and a GuideStar Platinum Rated charity. For more information, please visit www.sepsis.org and connect with Sepsis Alliance on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn at @SepsisAlliance.