Antimicrobial Stewardship Team discusses antibiotics resistance
The week of November 13-19 is designated Worldwide Antibiotics Week by the World Health Organization (WHO), as well as U.S. Antibiotics Awareness week—with an emphasis on “antibiotics resistance.” Nash UNC Health Care joins the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in encouraging patients, families and all healthcare professionals to learn about the safe use of antibiotics.
Antibiotics are powerful medicines used for treating a number of common bacterial infections such as pneumonia, and for life-threatening conditions including sepsis; they do not fight infections caused by viruses, including flu and colds. They also won’t help with some common bacterial infections, including most cases of bronchitis, many sinus infections, some ear infections, and runny nose, even when mucus is thick, yellow or green (often seen as typical signs of infection).
While neither plant nor animal, bacteria are living microorganisms capable of change, and they are now developing a resistance to the effects of antibiotics, known simply as “antibiotics resistance.” Without a full awareness of this bacterial adaptation, the worldwide medical community, in the past, has overprescribed antibiotics.
This makes the prudent use of antibiotics absolutely critical. To continue this practice would be to risk the future use of these incredible drugs.
To further complicate matters, if antibiotics are used when not needed, they won’t help, and the side effects can still be harmful. Common side effects range from things like rashes and yeast infections to severe health problems like Clostridium difficile infection (also called C. difficile or C. diff), which causes diarrhea that can lead to severe colon damage and death.
Just how dangerous is antibiotics resistance? Each year in the United States, at least two million people get infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria. At least, 23,000 of them will die because the bacteria will not respond to the antibiotics. In fact, antibiotic resistance is now one of the most urgent threats to the public’s health.
To fight this growing threat, Nash UNC Health Care has an active Antimicrobial Stewardship Team.
Headed by Luke Heuts, PharmD, BCPS, Clinical Coordinator, Pharmacy Services, this hospital has partnered with the Duke Antimicrobial Stewardship Outreach Network (DASON) to provide education and leadership for hospital staff and patients about antibiotics. Together, they work to continuously optimize how antibiotics are used within our hospital and community.
If you, as a patient, need antibiotics, it is recommended to take them exactly as prescribed. Patients and families can talk to their healthcare professional if they have any questions about their antibiotics, or if they develop side effects, especially diarrhea since that could be C. difficile, which needs to be treated.
Improving the way antibiotics are used helps keep us healthy now, helps fight antibiotic resistance, and ensures that life-saving antibiotics will be available for future use. We can all stay healthy and keep others healthy by cleaning our hands, covering our coughs, staying home when sick, and getting recommended vaccines, for the flu, for example.