Return to 19th Century-Style Surgery

A world where routine surgeries are high-risk once again, and organ transplants, bowel surgery and some cancer treatments are too dangerous, could become reality in the UK given the rise of antimicrobial resistance.

In a widespread outbreak of an antibiotic-resistant bacterial blood infection in Britain, about 200,000 people could fall ill and as many as 80,000 people could die, according to the National Risk Register of Civil Emergencies, published by the UK’s Cabinet Office late last month. Pandemic flu and “catastrophic terror attacks” were ranked the highest threats to the UK by the report, based on their anticipated likelihood and their relative impact.

But UK politicians and health officials are also worried about the effects of rising antibiotic use, calling on doctors to help police their peers on over-prescription.

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