GAO Finds Gaps in Antibiotic Resistance Surveillance by CDC

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media , July 11, 2011

He pointed to several reports, including the Public Health Action Plan to Combat Antimicrobial Resistance produced by the Interagency Task Force on Antimicrobial Resistance (ITFAR) and the recently posted, 2009-2010 Progress Towards Implementation of A Public Health Action Plan To Combat Antimicrobial Resistance.

"We believe that when these many activities come to fruition, they will provide a complete and accurate national picture of the public health impact of antimicrobial resistance," he wrote.  The CDC is developing what Solomon describes as a detailed strategic plan for the prevention of antimicrobial resistant infections that will include surveillance and monitoring of antimicrobial resistant infections and antibiotic use.

The CDC is taking other steps too, including one to get a better handle on Clostridium difficile infections, by expanding its monitoring in more geographic locations from seven to 10 this year.

Another growing concern is the failure of all federal agencies to monitor disposal of antibiotics, which can increase the population of resistant bacteria, the GAO report said. "Federal agencies do not collect data regarding the disposal of most antibiotics intended for human use" although the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Geological Survey have done some environmental measurements.

Cheryl Clark is senior quality editor and California correspondent for HealthLeaders Media. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists.
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