A recent investigation by PBS’ Frontline has shed additional light on the growing threat of antibiotic resistance. A segment titled “The Trouble with Antibiotics” delves into mounting evidence of the global spread of multi-drug resistant bacteria, highlighting the case of Troy Stulen, a 20-year-old who was killed by an antibiotic-resistant bacterial infection following a successful bone marrow transplant at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.
Each year, at least two million Americans are infected with bacteria that are resistant to common antibiotics, 23,000 of which die from these infections, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Troy Stulen’s death resulted from an infection with a gram-negative bacterium that acquired a Klebsiella pneumoniae carbapenemase, or KPC, which causes resistance to nearly all available antibiotics. KPC – relatively unknown ten years ago – is today identified as one of several mechanisms that can cause seemingly susceptible bacteria to become multi-drug resistant “superbugs.” In its segment, Frontline explores the potential causes of the emergence of KPC and other causes of multi-drug resistance and discusses why it is critical for hospitals to improve their management of patients with antibiotic-resistant infections.