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Chirurgie 3. Mai 2014

Antibiotic resistance: a long term, serious problem…getting worse. Thoughts on the future of surgery in a post-antibiotic era


Last year the Director General of the World Health Organisation warned that ‘the medical advances of the past 80 years are at risk of being wiped away at a stroke’, due to progressive antibiotic resistance. Widespread unnecessary antibiotic use cannot go on and the World Health Organisation is getting increasingly worried.

Methods and Results

Until the 1980’s the ‘golden age’ of antibiotics reigned, with stronger and more targeted antibiotics joining the market. Since then the graphs shows a sorrier tale. In the 10 years between 1980 and 1989, 29 new antibiotics were approved by the United States Food & Drug Administration. Since 2005 the number is 4, and the trend shows no mercy. Coupled with organisms’ ability to develop resistance there is a threat that even minor injuries may again prove fatal. And in that scenario, consider the risk of major abdominal surgery.


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So where does all this leave us? What does this mean for the junior doctors of tomorrow, the consultants of the future? As we near crisis point we have to realise that our attempts at protecting our antibiotic reserve are failing. The difficulty arises in finding the balance between treating our patients today and safeguarding the future. We have to be sensible, but mindful of future perils. The surgeon of 2050 will face many new challenges, but will the threat of a post antibiotic era limit development and expertise? ‘Antibiotic resistance: A long term, serious problem…getting worse’

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