The emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria is an evolutionary consequence of antibiotic usage. Because bacteria multiply rapidly, they have a high degree of genetic variability and this means that when bacteria that are sensitive to an antibiotic are killed, those bacteria that are resistant to the antibiotic have free rein to develop and spread. In addition to this, many bacteria have horizontal gene transfer systems, which means that an antibiotic-resistant bacterium can pass this resistance on not only to future generations, but also to the bacteria surrounding it.

Since Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin in 1928, hundreds of different antibiotics have been developed based on both natural discoveries and on chemical synthesis in laboratories. However, over the decades this has led to a clear abuse of antibiotics, both on a human and a veterinary level, and this in turn has led to the rapid emergence of resistant bacteria. One obvious example is a strain of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) which in recent years has also developed a resistance to vancomycin (VSRA), one of the last antibiotics that could be used to treat it. This represents a first-level health issue, but it is not the only one. Many other disease-causing pathogens which until recently had been treatable are now beginning to develop multiple resistances which hinder effective treatment, or even make this treatment impossible.

The process of discovering and producing new types of antibiotics is slow and very costly. Although research in this area has picked up noticeably, concerns are growing and the WHO has published a list of treatment-resistant pathogens for which new antibiotics are urgently required.

Intravenously-administered antibiotics for use in hospitals.

The last line of defence against these multi-resistant infections is a series of antibiotics, mainly administered intravenously, which are only used in hospital environments. This makes the requirements of infusion pumps more complex, because in many cases it is necessary to combine several of these ‘last line’ antibiotics to treat resistant infections effectively and it’s necessary an accurate control of flow and volume of the infusion.

All of the above leads to increased costs for hospitals: greater hospitalisation times, more expensive medication with a greater number of side effects, more complex technological requirements for intravenous infusion, and so on.

This means that it is important to develop strategies for the responsible use of antibiotics on a global level, and to research new drugs and clinical approaches to these types of infections. In addition to this it is also important to develop strategies that will help hospitals to contain costs and use their resources in a more efficient manner. In this particular area, arcomed’s Pump Pooling System (PPS) and the standardisation of pumps with our All-in-One philosophy can create significant cost savings for hospitals in which the demand for infusion pumps is increasing.