Antibiotics are universally prescribed drugs. Because they exert selective pressure and because of the innate bacterial ability for adaptation, even the appropriate clinical use of these potentially life-preserving agents inevitably fosters the development and spread of resistance by a variety of microorganisms. Inappropriate use has accelerated and increased the magnitude of a problem that is now considered a public health crisis. For Gram-positive pathogens some compounds offer limited hope, but for Gram-negative organisms no new drugs with radically increased spectra are available for clinical trials. Patients with serious infections due to multiresistant organisms are experiencing adverse, sometimes fatal, clinical outcomes. Use of multiple drugs increases side effects and exposes additional susceptible bacteria to selective pressure. There is evidence that the appropriate use of currently available antibiotics can be associated with a reduction of the spread of resistance. Antibiotic stewardship programmes and the antibiotic 'care bundle' approach can be effective measures to lengthen the useful life of antibiotics and can be implemented in most clinical situations.
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