Do you take antibiotics for granted? Many of us do. After all, these drugs have been saving lives for decades, serving as magic bullets against deadly infections such as pneumonia, gangrene or blood poisoning since the middle of the 20th century.
Unfortunately, the bacteria that cause infections have been evolving and many have developed resistance to common antibiotics. Some have even become resistant to our strongest drugs. Are these superbugs about to reverse the achievements of modern medicine?
A number of experts tell you about the threat and how it can be countered. We hear about the danger of multi-drug resistant infections in hospitals, and learn that stethoscopes become just as contaminated as doctors' hands in the course of an examination. But while hands are usually washed, stethoscopes are rarely disinfected between patients. A simple technology can make that much easier, while a room-sterilizing robot (Tru-D) can help prevent the spread of infections from one patient to the next.
Vance Fowler, MD, is Professor of Medicine in the Department of Medicine and Professor of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Duke University School of Medicine.
Didier Pittet, MD, MS, is Director of the Infection Control Programme at the University of Geneva Hospitals and Faculty of Medicine. He directs the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre on Patient Safety and is external programme lead of the WHO First Global Patient Safety Challenge: Clean Care Is Safer Care.
Tuan Dam is CEO and founder of Cleanint Technologies, a company that makes devices to disinfect pens, stethoscopes and remote control devices.
Mario Soares is Director of the Environmental Health and Safety Department and the Infection Prevention and Control Department at The Methodist Hospital System in Houston.