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PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
July 31, 2006

Fred M. Jacobs, M.D., J.D.

For Further Information Contact:
Donna Leusner
(609) 984-7160



TRENTON- The Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) today released a strategic plan outlining recommendations on combating antibiotic resistance in bacteria. This strategy includes educating the public and the medical community about the threat of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and reducing the inappropriate use of antibiotics.

DHSS Commissioner Fred M. Jacobs, M.D., J.D. appointed the New Jersey Careful Antibiotic Use Strategies and Education (NJCAUSE) task force in February 2005 to develop a plan to control the emergence and spread of antimicrobial-resistant organisms.

The strategic plan states that inappropriate use of antibiotics is a public health problem with potentially devastating consequences. Diseases from childhood ear infections to tuberculosis, gonorrhea and malaria are more difficult to treat than they were just a decade ago and getting harder to treat all the time.

“Infections caused by antimicrobial resistant bacteria are driving up health care costs, increasing the severity of disease and even causing death,’’ said Commissioner Jacobs. “We need a multi-disciplinary approach to educate the public and promote appropriate use of antibiotics and that’s why I convened a task force to address this very significant public health threat.”

The strategic plan developed by 30 representatives from various hospital and health groups calls on the Department to:

  • Define the economic impact of antibiotic resistance and use this information to educate health care providers, executives, elected officials and the public about the high cost of infections caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

  • Develop an electronic, user-friendly system for monitoring statewide trends of antimicrobial-resistant bacteria.

  • Develop policies for evaluating physician prescription practices and management of patients with antibiotic resistance.

  • Partner with DHSS’ Office of Minority and Multicultural Health to identify community organizations serving minority populations and increase awareness among those populations.

DHSS and the New Jersey Hospital Association (NJHA) have received grants totaling $275,000 to reduce antimicrobial resistance and educate the public about the appropriate use of antibiotics.

The Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey awarded NJHA a $181,900 grant to support a joint venture between NJHA and DHSS to reduce the incidence of catheter-associated urinary tract infections in hospitals, long-term care institutions, and home care agencies. Catheter-associated urinary tract infections are the most common infections in hospitals and nursing homes, comprising more than 40 percent of all institutionally acquired infections.

“As more and more infections become antibiotic resistant, it’s imperative that healthcare organizations work in tandem with public health officials to minimize the impact of antibiotic resistant bacteria on patient care,” said NJHA’s Senior Vice President of Clinical Affairs Aline Holmes. “This collaboration with the state and the smart use of these grant funds will go a long way toward holding down the cost of care and most importantly improving patient outcomes.”   

Each year, urinary catheters are inserted in more than 5 million patients in acute-care hospitals and extended-care facilities. Although most of these infections are asymptomatic, they commonly lead to the unnecessary prescription of antibiotics.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s Campaign to Prevent Antimicrobial Resistance in Healthcare Settings identifies catheter removal as a key step in preventing antimicrobial resistance. The Department and NJHA also hope to improve physician prescribing patterns of antibiotics for urinary tract infections associated with catheters.

Additionally, the state has been awarded $95,000 by the CDC to fund activities to combat antimicrobial resistance and to promote appropriate use of antibiotics.

Antibiotic resistance has been around since the 1940s, but widespread use and abuse of antibiotics has promoted the spread of antibiotic resistance. Nearly two  million patients in the United States get an infection in a hospital each year and of those, about 90,000 die as a result of their infection.

Data from 24 of the state’s 81 hospitals on methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, showed that infections increased from 54 to 64 percent between 2002 and 2004.

 “Alarmingly, more than 70 percent of the bacteria that cause hospital-acquired infections are resistant to at least one of the drugs most commonly used to treat them,’’ said Dr. Eddy Bresnitz, DHSS Deputy Commissioner and State Epidemiologist. “When antibiotics fail to work, the consequences are longer-lasting illnesses, additional doctor visits or extended hospital stays and the need for more expensive and toxic medications. Over the past few years, we have had several outbreaks of resistant infections and an increased incidence in hospitals.”

The NJCAUSE task force was co-chaired by two DHSS physicians: Dr. Corey Robertson, Medical Director, Emerging Infectious Diseases, and Dr. Barbara Montana, Medical Director, Health Infrastructure, Preparedness and Emergency Response. It was comprised of members of DHSS, NJHA, the Northern and Southern NJ Chapters of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, Healthcare Quality Strategies Inc., the Infectious Diseases Society of New Jersey, the Public Health Research Institute and representatives from some of the state’s largest medical centers and systems, including the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Meridian Health System, and Saint Barnabas Health System.

The strategic plan is available at

and additional information about antibiotic resistance is available at and,

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