November 14, 2016

Get Smart About Antibiotics – Why Antibiotics Are Not Always the Answer

By Sue Cauthen RN, MSN
Mission Health Infection Prevention

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has named November 14-20, 2016, Get Smart about Antibiotics Week to raise awareness of the importance of correctly using antibiotics, so that when we really need antibiotics they will work. Antibiotics are a resource that we want to keep. They are important in treating bacterial infections.

blog-antibiotics-get-smartWhen antibiotics are overused or used incorrectly they lose their ability to work. Bacteria may become resistant – this is known as antibiotic resistance. Antibiotics are the only drug that when used by one person, may affect how well they work for others; for this reason they are called a shared resource. We all share the responsibility for correctly using antibiotics so they will work effectively for everyone.

The CDC uses this week in November to focus efforts to improve antibiotic stewardship in communities, in healthcare facilities and on farms in collaboration with state-based programs, nonprofit partners and for-profit partners. The one-week observance raises awareness of the threat of antibiotic resistance and the importance of appropriate antibiotic prescribing and use.

Mission Health has an Antimicrobial Stewardship Committee that works to meet the CDC guidelines for improving antimicrobial use in Mission facilities. The multidisciplinary team meets monthly and reviews antimicrobial prescribing practices and works to improve antimicrobial use. This work helps improve patient outcomes, decreases antibiotic resistance and saves money. The team helps Mission Heath meet the strategic priority of providing the safest, highest quality healthcare.

Everyone can be an antibiotic steward.

Here are some helpful tips:

  • Antibiotic are NOT always the answer. Antibiotics do not fight viral illnesses like colds. Ask your healthcare provider what other treatments may help you feel better.
  • Talk with your healthcare provider about the right medicines for your health. Unnecessary antibiotic use can make future infections harder to treat.
  • If antibiotics are prescribed for you to treat a bacterial infection, be sure to take all of the medicine. Not finishing the medicine can cause resistant bacteria to develop. When antibiotics are used incorrectly, they can be harmful to your health.