CDC: Some Hospitals Need Assistance Using Antibiotics Properly (And The New Federal Budget May Help)

Maryn McKenna | Wired | March 4, 2014

Double-barreled news today from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In an analysis of several sets of hospital data, gathered by the agency and also purchased from independent databases, the CDC said it found that more than 37 percent of prescriptions written in hospitals involved some sort of error or poor practice, increasing the risk of serious infections or antibiotic resistance. And in a surprise announcement timed to the release of the federal draft budget, the agency said it is in line to receive $30 million to enhance its work combating antibiotic resistance in the US.

The budget announcement first, because that takes less space. The budget released Tuesday afternoon by the White House — which, to be clear, represents just the opening bid in a negotiation that will take many months — includes $77 billion for the Department of Health and Human Services, the CDC’s parent agency. That $30 million is deep within the line items; the budget narrative (p.4 of this pdf) says it “more than doubles CDC funding to combat antibiotic resistance.”

So, that’s significant news — and will be even more significant if the line item survives budget wrangling in Congress. It would represent additional resources that the agency could pass onto state and local health departments, which are the backbone of US public health, as well as the ability to invest in better molecular tools and expand its networks of surveillance to detect bad bugs.