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Clinical implications of nosocomial gram-positive bacteremia and superimposed antimicrobial resistance

  • Peter K. Linden
    Correspondence
    Requests for reprints should be addressed to Peter K. Linden, MD, Division of Critical Care Medicine, Scaife Hall/Room #638, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, 200 Lothrop Street, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15213
    Affiliations
    University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Division of Critical Care Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
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      Abstract

      The coexistence of a pathogen population with an ever-increasing resistance to many antibiotics and a patient population characterized by increasingly complex clinical problems has contributed to an increase in the bloodstream infections associated with gram-positive bacteria. This serious therapeutic challenge has already been associated with an increase in infection-related morbidity and mortality, a prolongation of hospital stays, and an escalation of healthcare costs. Vancomycin resistance, long prevalent among the enterococci, has emerged in strains of Staphylococcus aureus. Several cases of infection caused by S. aureus strains with intermediate-level resistance to vancomycin (MIC = 8 μg/mL) have recently been reported. As glycopeptide resistance accelerates among the gram-positive bacteria, so does the potential for adverse clinical consequences associated with bloodstream infections caused by these pathogens. The patients least able to tolerate the effects of uncontrolled bloodstream infections are also those at the highest risk for the development of infections caused by glycopeptide-resistant pathogens. In this at-risk population, a poor outcome may be anticipated if effective antibiotic therapy is unavailable. Appropriate rationing of vancomycin and other antimicrobial agents that increase the selection of antibiotic-resistant strains of gram-positive bacteria and the rapid development of novel antimicrobial agents with reliable gram-positive activity must be immediate priorities if the threat posed by glycopeptide-resistant gram-positive pathogens is to be countered.
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