The Role of Surveillance Cultures in Containing Antibiotic Resistance

  • P. Toltzis
Conference paper
Part of the Topics in Anaesthesia and Critical Care book series (TIACC)


Hospital-wide surveillance of infectious diseases, organized and administered by the institution’s infection control committee, is standard in modern medicine. Through passive and active mechanisms, such institutional surveillance is invaluable for quality assurance and for detecting epidemics in their earliest stages, when they are most amenable to intervention. However, surveillance culturing done at the local level in the intensive care unit (ICU), with the goal of controlling the spread of antibiotic-resistant organisms, is controversial, and the effectiveness of such practice depends upon many circumstances that vary from organism to organism and from unit to unit. There were three principal resistant phenotypes afflicting American and European hospitals in the late 1990s, namely, vancomycin-resistant enterococcus (VRE), methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), and multiple antibiotic-resistant gram-negative bacilli. The following will review the factors that determine the effectiveness of infection control interventions, including surveillance culturing, in limiting the spread of these three resistant phenotypes.


Infection Control Health Care Worker Surveillance Culture Vancomycin Resistant Enterococcus Infect Control Hosp 
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© Springer-Verlag Italia, Milano 2001

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  • P. Toltzis

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