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Understanding the Appropriate Use of Antibiotics

November 16, 2018

ELKINS, W.VA. – Antibiotic Awareness is promoted during the month of November and Davis Medical Center is participating in Antibiotic Stewardship Programs and Activities to help improve antibiotic prescribing and use in their facilities and communities. The Stewardship Efforts help educate both patients and providers about evidence-based prescribing practices and avoiding antibiotic overuse and resistance.

Dr. Catherine Chua, Chief Medical Officer for Davis Medical Center, said antibiotic stewardship is very important.

“Per the Centers for Disease Control, 20 to 50 percent of all antibiotics prescribed in U.S. acute care hospitals are either unnecessary or inappropriate,” Dr. Chua said. “Any medication can have serious side effects. For antibiotics, those side effects can include adverse drug reactions and Clostridium difficile infection, or C-diff. Patients who are unnecessarily exposed to antibiotics are placed at risk for serious adverse events with no clinical benefit.”

Chua said the misuse of antibiotics also contributes to the growing problems with antibiotic resistance.

“The potential for the spread of resistant organisms means the misuse of antibiotics can adversely impact the health of patients who are not even exposed to them,” Chua said.

“Patients need to understand that most upper respiratory infections are viral, and, whereas doctors traditionally in the past would prescribe antibiotics ‘just in case,’ this approach is justifiably changing,” she said. “There are certain signs, symptoms and clinical presentations, however, that are more likely to have a bacterial cause, and those cases will be treated with antibiotics. I encourage patients to engage in a dialogue with their provider to discuss the differential diagnosis and treatment options.”

The CDC said Antibiotic Stewardship Programs and Activities can improve patient outcomes by reducing unnecessary antibiotic prescribing, by decreasing C. Difficile infections and antibiotic resistance and by lowering costs. It also reports that antibiotic stewardship programs have consistently demonstrated annual savings of $200,000 to $400,000 in hospitals and other healthcare facilities.

Additional information about antibiotics and the Antibiotic Stewardship Programs and Activities is available online at www.cdc.gov.