Dynamic Code urges doctors: Choose the right antibiotic treatment!
Today is the European Antibiotic Awareness Day, which reminds us of the risks of an increasing number of bacteria becoming resistant to antibiotics, meaning diseases that currently are relatively easy to treat and thus “harmless”, risk becoming deadly. The Public Health Agency of Sweden believes 70,000 Swedes will be affected by antibiotic-resistant bacteria annually, by the year 2050. It is no overstatement to claim that antibiotic resistance is one the most serious global health threats of our time.
The general discussion often focuses on how we must reduce the use of antibiotics, particularly within the farming and food industries. Another important area, however, is how antibiotics are used within health care. There are issues with self-medication with antibiotics purchased online, incorrect antibiotic treatments of viral infections and not least, the prescription of antibiotics without knowing which specific bacterium is causing the infection. This drives the progression of resistance, as the bacteria adapt and become resistant to antibiotics. The health care sector needs better diagnostic tools with better accuracy that can help doctors choose the right antibiotic in each individual case.
Dynamic Code’s new Urinary Tract Infection Test for Women, which we will launch tomorrow, is an example of such diagnostic tool.
Almost seven in ten women are affected by urinary tract infection at some point in their lives. Our test detects the most common bacteria causing urinary tract infection in women. This allows doctors to easily diagnose and prescribe the correct treatment. Correct treatment at an early stage reduces the risk of serious complications that otherwise would require more antibiotic treatment and thus risk advancing the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. An untreated or incorrectly treated urinary tract infection can cause serious complications, such as renal pelvis inflammation, which in turn can lead to sepsis. It is particularly important for pregnant women with urinary tract infection caused by so-called group B streptococci GBS, to get correct treatment, as both mother and child could otherwise, in the worst cases, experience serious complications during the pregnancy and during childbirth.
Thus, better and more accurate diagnostic tools are needed to identify the bacteria type, before antibiotic treatment is administered. It is particularly important to establish the bacteria type early, to prevent the still untreated infection from advancing to complications that cause the individual to be hospitalised and where treatment with broad-spectrum antibiotics may be required – which further contributes to increasing antibiotic resistance.
Another of our tests – the test for STI mycoplasma genitalis – also detects whether the bacteria are resistant and if so, to which type of antibiotics. Doctors are then able to make a fact-based decision and choose the right antibiotic.
Considering the knowledge that is available here in Sweden, it is difficult to both understand and accept that we still do not get antibiotic treatment only when it is actually needed. Instead, antibiotics are prescribed without tests being performed to establish if a bacterial infection is present, or to determine what bacteria type it is, and further, without determining if the bacteria is resistant.
With our methods and diagnostic tools, health care could offer better and more accurate treatments. Health care could further establish new guidelines based on knowledge of accurate bacteria present, and administer the correct antibiotic early, before complications arise and more people are infected.
We all need to help prevent antibiotic resistance.
Founder and CEO Dynamic Code
Professor Emeritus in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, former Head of the Division of Women’s Health at Linköping University Hospital