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Cincinnati Childrens is making antibiotics last longer

A computer progam called VigiLanz is Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center's new secret weapon in treating and preventing "superbugs," and consequently making antibiotics last longer.

What's the problem?

Doctors say we use antibiotics far too much (they're also used in farm animals to promote growth, so we're  exposed to them in our food supply).  For most any antibiotic that has been developed, and there have only been 5 new kinds in the last 45 years, bacteria have become resistant to it. Drugs like penicillin, meropenem, ciprofloxacin, and gentamicin are not as effective.

Dr. David Haslam, an infectious disease specialist was hired to launch the "Antimicrobial Stewardship Program" at Children's. He says, "It's a trade off because we know those bacteria can cause serious infections so we want to treat very aggressively. But the more we treat, the more likely it is that the germ will become resistant." 

The program is aimed at:

  • Decreasing the use of antibiotics
  • Decreasing CDIFF
  • Reducing hospital costs
  • Reducing hospital stays

Scientist Magazine reports 23,000 people in the U.S. die every year from infections caused by drug-resistant bacteria and the infections account for an additional 8 million days patients spend in the hospital.

Pharmacist Dr. Josh Courter is also on the Stewardship team. He says VigiLanz sends a message to the pharmacist if there are opportunities to decrease antibiotics, but it's not the antibiotic police. "We're trying to go with a more collaborative approach and once we have the data and see whether or not the culture has grown after a few days, we'll take a second look at the patient."

Cincinnati Children's says it is the first pediatric hospital to use VigiLanz.

With more than 30 years of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market, Ann Thompson brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting. She has reported for WKRC, WCKY, WHIO-TV, Metro Networks and CBS/ABC Radio. Her work has been recognized by the Associated Press and the Society of Professional Journalists. In 2019 and 2011 A-P named her “Best Reporter” for large market radio in Ohio. She has won awards from the Association of Women in Communications and the Alliance for Women in Media. Ann reports regularly on science and technology in Focus on Technology.