By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — New staggering numbers from a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report shows tens of thousands of people die each year in the United States from antibiotic resistance infections. Eighteen germs in total are listed in the new report which finds antibiotic resistance leads to more than 3 million infections and 48,000 deaths each year.

Christian Lillis still struggles with how his mother, Peggy, died. After she was prescribed antibiotics for a root canal, she died days later from C. diff, an infection that can occur after using antibiotics.

“I don’t think you can absorb that kind of loss all at once,” Lillis said.

C. diff is one of the CDC’s top-five urgent antibiotic resistance threats.

“Ultimately, we all want to avoid getting an infection in the first place, but if we do get sick, we want to make sure there is an effective treatment,” Michael Craig, senior adviser at the CDC for Antibiotic Resistance, said.

Overuse of antibiotics leads to drug resistance. The CDC says hospitals have made significant progress in preventing infections, but not enough.

“We need to improve infection control, we need to improve sanitation, we need to improve the way we use antibiotics and we need new drugs,” Craig explained.

Doctors say patients should always ask questions about prescriptions.

“Is this really what I need? Are there any alternatives to the condition I have or are antibiotics absolutely the answer? If so, what’s the shortest, most effective duration?” said Dr. Priya Nori, director of the Anti-microbial Stewardship Program at Montefiore Health System.

Lillis started a foundation in his mother’s honor to raise awareness.

“If we had known of C. diff or even if her dentist had known the risk, different decisions could have been made,” Lillis said.

He hopes sharing his own story will help other families.

The CDC says we also need new vaccines, tests and other tools to combat the problem so doctors can better treat patients or prevent infections in the first place.

Stephanie Stahl