Antimicrobial resistance and infection management

Another important factor adding to the toll of HAIs is the increase in antimicrobial resistance (AMR). More than 70% of bacteria causing HAIs are resistant to at least one of the drugs most commonly used to treat them.17 HAIs are closely linked to AMR and are often caused by an increased risk of resistant strains of bacteria found in infections. Fighting HAIs is an important, preventive measure against AMR.

AMR has become an increasingly serious threat to health care systems all over the world. It describes the ability of a pathogenic microorganisms to develop resistance to common antimicrobial medication. As a result, treatment options are limited and/or ineffective and patients suffer unnecessarily. AMR already contributes to 50,000 deaths a year in Europe.18 The UN warns that drug-resistant diseases could cause 10 million deaths each year by 2050 and inflict damage to the global economy as catastrophic as the 2008-2009 global financial crisis.19

What is antimicrobial resistance?

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) occurs when micro-organisms such as bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites change in ways that make medication ineffective. When micro-organisms become resistant to most antimicrobials they are often referred to as ‘superbugs’. As a result, the medicines become ineffective and infections persist in the body.

“Antimicrobial resistance is a significant threat to humanity,” says Gould. “Here, hand hygiene can be an effective preventative measure, but it is also essential that doctors are educated not to over-prescribe antibiotics, as well as raising awareness among the public that antibiotics should not always be expected.”

Treating infected wounds

In the context of wounds, bacterial colonization and development of antimicrobial resistance can contribute to delayed healing and represents a major challenge for clinicians.

Fighting AMR starts with prevention of infections through general hygiene measures and hand hygiene of the health care professional. When it comes to the treatment of an infected wound, antibiotics should be used with care and can often rather be avoided in local application to not foster AMR. “Non-medicated dressings with bacterial binding actions to remove bacteria and fungi from a wound provide several advantages here”, says Prof. Dr Karsten Hemmrich, Vice President Health & Medical Solutions, Essity. “You can address infection prevention and infection treatment with the same measurement, without the risk for antimicrobial resistance”.

The fight against AMR will remain a joint effort between health care professionals, health care companies, medical societies, health associations and politicians alike. The awareness of the dangers of AMR and its impact, and initiated measures to limit its spread through respective treatment guidelines are first steps on this journey.

According to the Essity survey, more people required preventive measures to combat multi-resistant bacteria in 2020 than in 2018.

17 P. Stone Economic burden of healthcare-associated infections an American perspective, Expert Review of Pharmacoeconomics & Outcomes Research, vol. , no.5, 2009, pp. 417-422

18 CDI (2020). Assessing Commitment to Global Health. Visit source

19 WHO (2019). New report calls for urgent action to avert antimicrobial resistance crisis. Visit source