Antibiotic Misuse Threatens Modern Medicine

Throughout hospitals and other healthcare facilities, antibiotic overuse and misuse threatens the efficacy of one of medicine’s most valuable lifesaving tools.  Concurrently, research and development for new antibiotics has been limited – creating a problem for generations to come.  The Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA) is joining the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other partners in “Get Smart about Antibiotics Week” to highlight this alarming issue and raise awareness of strategies and programs to stop and reverse these trends.

"Antimicrobial resistance is a complex global issue that requires an aggressive and coordinated response.  The national strategy and executive order released in September provide good recommendations.  This leadership must be supported by adequate resources, strong governmental coordination, and external stakeholder involvement.  We must act now to prolong the efficacy of antibiotics and meet the threat of new, resistant microbes," says Daniel Diekema, MD, president, SHEA Board of Trustees.

The importance of addressing antimicrobial resistance through expanded surveillance, rapid diagnostics, developing new antibiotics, and antibiotic stewardship programs cannot be overstated. 

"Antibiotics are a precious resource, yet we have not had a systematic approach in hospitals or any healthcare facilities across the U.S. to ensure they are used appropriately," says Sara Cosgrove, MD, MS, associate professor of medicine and epidemiology at Johns Hopkins University and chair of SHEA's Antimicrobial Stewardship Committee. "All facilities can improve patient outcomes and resistance trends by focusing efforts to eliminate unnecessary antibiotic therapies and raising the patients’ understanding of this issue."

Everyone has a role to play in reducing antibiotic resistance. The way antibiotics are used today will impact how effective they will be in the future. To help maintain the effectiveness of today’s antibiotics:
- Refrain from treating viral infections, like colds, with antibiotics.
- Prescribe the right antibiotic at the right dose for the right duration.
- Do not ask your doctor for antibiotics. Remember that antibiotics have side effects. When your doctor says you do not need an antibiotic, taking one may do more harm than good.
- Do not save antibiotics for the next illness. Discard any leftover medication once the prescribed course of treatment is completed. 
- Do not let others use your antibiotics. Taking the wrong medicine may delay correct treatment and allow bacteria to grow.
- Prevent infections by practicing good hand hygiene and getting recommended vaccines.

Visit the SHEA website for more information on the appropriate use and management of antimicrobials in all healthcare settings to help improve patient care and slow the development of resistance. Among the resources available are a comprehensive resource page and an in-person training course scheduled for February 2015 in Los Angeles.

Source: SHEA