discoveries magazine

Innovation 8: Pro Solutions to Antibiotics Problems

Medicine is supposed to move in just one direction—forward. But the growing problem of antibiotic resistance threatens to take us back to darker ages of medical care by triggering outbreaks of infections once easily cured. Fortunately, the days of resistant “superbugs” may be numbered. Cedars-Sinai is developing and implementing innovative approaches to curb the misuse and overuse of antibiotics—and help prevent a worldwide health crisis.

1. Rapid Results

Cedars-Sinai is a national leader in adopting rapid diagnostic tests—a major advance in the fight against infections. These tests—and the vigilance of pharmacists to manage antibiotic use—have reduced the time it takes for patients to receive the most targeted antibiotic from an average of 52.4 to 24.9 hours. Faster results lead to better treatment outcomes and lower the risk that bacteria will develop antibiotic resistance.

2. Bacterial Fingerprints

Another advance in the pipeline is whole-genome sequencing, which produces a DNA “fingerprint” of bacteria within hours. This test would make it possible to track potential outbreaks and prevent infections from spreading, and to identify antibiotic-resistant bacteria so doctors can determine the best course of treatment. As this technology is developed, Cedars-Sinai continues to protect patients with an infection-control program that serves as a nationwide model.

3. Pharmacists on Call

Antimicrobial stewardship pharmacists at Cedars-Sinai ensure appropriate use of antibiotics by monitoring test results and alerting physicians when they detect a need to change the course of treatment for bacterial infections.

4. Dream Team

Preventing infections, reducing antibiotic resistance, and optimizing patient care requires an extraordinary level of multidisciplinary teamwork. Cedars-Sinai pharmacists, laboratory scientists, infectious disease specialists, physicians, and nurses work in concert to tackle complex diagnostic challenges and streamline results.

5. Tabletop Tests

The next generation of rapid diagnostic testing could make it possible to identify almost any infection using a small tabletop instrument. A small hospital in a remote area could have the same diagnostic capability as a major medical center—and patients might be able to use an easy test at home to quickly find out whether they need an antibiotic.