Antimicrobial Resistance: The Big Picture

An Interview With CDC's Steven L. Solomon, MD

Laura A. Stokowski, RN, MS; Steven L. Solomon, MD


September 16, 2013

Editorial Collaboration

Medscape &

In This Article

Editor's note: A new, comprehensive report on the current state of antimicrobial resistance, Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States, 2013, has just been released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This report provides the latest data on resistant microorganisms, the burden of disease that they cause, and the remaining therapeutic options. The report also describes CDC's efforts to slow the pace of developing resistance and how everyone, from patients to healthcare professionals, can do their part to support these efforts. Medscape spoke with Steven L. Solomon, MD, Director, Office of Antimicrobial Resistance, CDC Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion, National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, about the purpose and scope of the new report on antimicrobial resistance.

What's New in Antimicrobial Resistance?

Medscape: We have heard a lot about antimicrobial resistance in recent years. What does this report add to the conversation?

Steven L. Solomon, MD

Dr. Solomon: We see this as a landmark report. In writing it, we set out to paint the big picture of antimicrobial resistance. We have put out a tremendous amount of information over many years about particular aspects of the problem -- the individual microorganisms, antimicrobial stewardship, specific resistance problems in healthcare-associated infections, community-acquired infections, and foodborne diseases. However, this is the first time that we have put all of that material together to show that antimicrobial resistance is a huge and very frightening problem for the United States. It is evident from all of the reporting that we have seen on Medscape and elsewhere that concern about antimicrobial resistance is heightening, and both medical professionals and the public want more information. With this report, we are responding to that concern.

Medscape: Who is the intended audience for the report?

Dr. Solomon: The report is really for everyone. Obviously, it is important for all healthcare professionals, but it isn't exclusively for healthcare professionals. We tried very hard to make some sections of this report very accessible to the lay public. We want the broadest engagement that we can possibly achieve around the United States to solve this problem. Awareness of this problem needs to be increased. We are rapidly approaching a cliff that represents worsening clinical problems with multiply resistant bacteria; if we go over the cliff, we will lose the ability to treat infections entirely. We are at risk of returning to the pre-antibiotic era.


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