The Future Cost of Antimicrobial Resistance

Over on Superbug, Maryn McKenna (are you following her yet? No? If you’re into infectious disease, you should) discusses a recent report on the global ramifications of antimicrobial resistance. In it, the authors project by 2050, 10 million deaths a year will be attributed to infections caused by six resistant organisms. (Those are: Klebsiella pneumoniae, E. coli, MRSA; HIV, TB and malaria.) These deaths will cause an estimated loss of 100 trillion dollars of lost gross national product.

So what can laboratory professionals and pathologists do to help stop these predictions from coming true? For starters:

  • Advocate for and implement antibiotic stewardship programs.
  • Educate the public about proper antibiotic use.
  • Practice good laboratory safety practices.

What else can labs, microbiologists, and pathologists do to stem the tide of antibiotic resistance?


Kelly Swails, MT(ASCP), is a laboratory professional, recovering microbiologist, and web editor for Lab Medicine.

New National Strategy for Antibiotic Resistance

Last week, the White House published a National Strategy for Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria and President Obama signed an executive order that orders the implementation of the strategy. The report covers a lot of information, but two goals stuck out as being especially pertinent for laboratory professionals.

By 2020:

  • 95 percent of hospitals report data on their antibiotic use to the CDC
  • create regional laboratory networks for testing resistant bacteria and make the data publicly, electronically, available.

Both of these goals require the cooperation of clinical laboratories including (but certainly not limited to)  infrastructure upgrades, data collection, and procedural changes. In an era when laboratories have less resources than ever before, will this stretch microbiology departments too far? Based on available resources, are these goals attainable?

If you’d like a comprehensive overview of the government’s strategy, check out Maryn McKenna’s excellent post on Wired’s Superbug blog.


Kelly Swails, MT(ASCP), is a laboratory professional, recovering microbiologist, and web editor for Lab Medicine.

Antiobiotic Resistance Worldwide

The World Health Organization assessed worldwide antibacterial resistance and recently published their findings. The report notes that a post-antibiotic era isn’t a dystopian fantasy but, in fact, a real possibility in the 21st century. Dire? Yes, but if you’ve been following the news, unsurprising.

The press release is here.

You can download or order the report here.

You can read a summary of the report here.



The Post-Antibiotic Era, Part 2

Linking to a few articles by Maryn McKenna because you need to read them.

In this blog post, Ms. McKenna writes about a man from New Zealand who died from a bacteria completely resistant to all antibiotics.

In this article, she imagines the post-antibiotic world. In a nutshell: it’s a scary place.

-Kelly Swails