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Br Med Bull. 1999;55(1):259-76.

Antibacterial resistance in the intensive care unit: mechanisms and management.

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Department of Clinical Microbiology, University Hospital Birmingham NHS Trust, UK.


The incidence of multiple antimicrobial resistance of bacteria which cause infections in the intensive care unit is increasing. These include methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and vancomycin-resistant enterococci, penicillin-resistant Streptococcus pneumoniae and cephalosporin and quinolone resistant coliforms. More recently, pan antibiotic resistant coliforms, including carbapenems, have emerged. The rapidity of emergence of these multiple antibiotic-resistant organisms is not being reflected by the same rate of development of new antimicrobial agents. It is, therefore, conceivable that patients with serious infections will soon no longer be treatable with currently available antimicrobials. Strict management of antibiotic policies and surveillance programmes for multiple resistant organisms, together with infection control procedures, need to be implemented and continuously audited. As intensive care units provide a nidus of infection for other areas within hospitals, this is critically important for prevention of further spread and selection of these resistant bacteria.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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