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The rising threat of antibiotic resistance: A guide for nurses

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Antibiotic-resistant bacteria are on the rise Antibiotic-resistant bacteria are estimated to cause nearly three quarters of a million deaths each year

Antibiotic resistance is the term used to describe the failure of an antibiotic to treat the infection for which it has been prescribed because the bacteria has become resistant to the drug issued. This is not a problem confined to the UK alone, and affects many countries around the world. The concern is that as bacteria become increasing resistant to antibiotics, infections will be more severe and will take longer to treat, and the number of deaths arising as a result will also increase. The emergence of ‘superbugs’ is very concerning as they are resistant to treatment with any of the currently available antibiotics. The current scale of this global health disaster is reflected in the statistics which indicate that resistance is already killing 700,000 people a year, and it is predicted that it will cause 10 million deaths per year by 2050 if the current situation is not improved.1

This article aims to give nurses and nurse prescribers an insight into the scale of the problem and a better understanding of the role nurses can play in helping to improve the current situation.

The importance of antibiotics

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