Antibiotic resistance is a growing public healthcare concern worldwide. Widespread overuse and incorrect prescribing patterns are significant problems, driving drug resistance and introducing a number of unnecessary side effects.
When antibiotics don’t work, the result can be longer and more complicated illnesses, more doctor visits, increased use of stronger and more expensive drugs, as well as more deaths caused by bacterial infections.
To preserve the potency and efficacy of antibiotics, patients and doctors and administrators must come together to correct overuse and careless use of valuable drugs.
What the public can do
As a member of the public, it’s important to remember that antibiotics fight bacterial and not viral infections. Colds and flu, most coughs and bronchitis, are all examples of viral infections that are regularly treated using antibiotics.
When antibiotics are prescribed, however, patients can make sure of the following:
- Ensure that tests are done so that the right antibiotics are prescribed.
- Take the antibiotics exactly as the doctor instructs, do not skip doses and finish the course.
- Do not share leftover antibiotics. Only take drugs that have been prescribed to you — taking the wrong medication may delay treatment and allow bacteria to multiply.
- Do not save antibiotics for the next illness.
- Do not ask for antibiotics if your doctor thinks you do not need them.
Experts say that it’s important to know whether you have a viral or bacterial infection. If you have a viral infection, like a cold or flu, then the symptoms will generally lessen over the span of a week and you do not need antibiotics.
However, if you have a fever and other symptoms that persist and worsen, you may have a bacterial infection and should consult your doctor.
What doctors and healthcare providers can do
In order to combat growing resistance to antibiotics, doctors can, fundamentally, ensure that they prescribe antibiotics correctly and monitor and track the duration and specifics of the prescription.
Furthermore, doctors and the facilities and staff they work with can stay aware of patterns of resistance in the facility, as well as improve prescribing practices and follow infection control measures like hand hygiene with every patient.
Hospitals and their staff are also encouraged to adopt an antibiotic stewardship programme that includes, at minimum, the following:
- Dedicated necessary human, financial, and IT resources.
- A single leader who is responsible for program outcomes. Physicians have proven successful in this role.
- A single pharmacist leader to support improved prescribing.
- Take at least one prescribing improvement action, such as requiring reassessment within 48 hours to check drug choice, dose, and duration.
- Monitor prescribing and antibiotic resistance patterns.
- Regularly report to staff prescribing and resistance patterns, and steps to improve.
- Offer education about antibiotic resistance and improving prescribing practices.
Though the scientific community is working on a number of measures to combat and overcome antibiotic resistance, the public, healthcare providers and healthcare facilities can play their part in contributing to improving the quality and strength of our healthcare.
2014 Alliance for the Prudent Use of Antibiotics . (n.d.). General Background: What can be done about Antibiotic Resistance? Retrieved 11 21, 2016, from Alliance for the Prudent use of Anti-biotics: http://emerald.tufts.edu/med/apua/about_issue/what_can_be_done.shtml
© 2016 by RxList Inc. (n.d.). Antibiotic Resistance: Questions & Answers. Retrieved 11 22, 2016, from RxList The Internet Drug Index: http://www.rxlist.com/antibiotic_resistance/drugs-condition.htm
Office of the Associate Director for Communication, Digital Media Branch, Division of Public Affairs. (2014, 04 28). Mission Critical: Preventing Antibiotic Resistance. Retrieved 11 21, 2016, from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: http://www.cdc.gov/features/antibioticresistance/
U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2011, 11 15). Combating Antibiotic Resistance . Retrieved 11 21, 2016, from U.S. Food and Drug Administration: http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm092810.htm