Joint Commission Launches Free Educational Campaign on Appropriate and Safe Use of Antibiotics


The Joint Commission today launched its Speak Up™ on Antibiotics campaign to help educate the public on the appropriate and safe use of antibiotics, as well as the risks associated with antibiotic overuse. The campaign is the first in the Speak Up series to simultaneously introduce a complete package of free resources, including an infographic, podcast and video.

Each year, an estimated 2 million people in the United States become infected with bacteria that antibiotics cannot treat because the bacteria is no longer responsive to antibiotics. Antibiotics also can kill good bacteria in the body, potentially leading to other problems such as diarrhea or yeast infections. As a result, antibiotic overuse has become a critical health and patient safety concern, especially in young children and seniors, who are at higher risk for illness.

“Antibiotics are powerful drugs used to fight specific infections. However, they do not work for every illness, including viruses that cause colds and the flu,” said Lisa Waldowski, MS, APRN, CIC, infection control specialist, The Joint Commission. “The new Speak Up campaign provides a variety of resources to help patients and caregivers understand that how they use antibiotics today can affect how well the drugs work for them tomorrow.”

The Speak Up on Antibiotics campaign includes an infographic illustrating which illnesses may require an antibiotic, as well as a list of questions to ask when prescribed an antibiotic. The do’s and don’ts of antibiotic use are outlined, including taking them exactly as recommended and preventing infections by washing hands and getting vaccinated. The campaign also has an accompanying podcast and animated video. In the podcast, Waldowski discusses the most common misconceptions about how antibiotics work and how they should be prescribed, as well as why patients should care about antibiotic overuse. In the video, available in English and Spanish, patients are reminded that antibiotics are not needed for colds or the flu. The video encourages patients to follow the advice of their doctor on whether an antibiotic is really needed and how to appropriately take it.

Through efforts like the Speak Up on Antibiotics campaign, the Joint Commission is increasing its efforts to promote effective antibiotic use within health care facilities. In addition, The Joint Commission recently joined the White House Forum on Antibiotic Stewardship to begin reviewing and identifying where new standards may be needed to promote appropriate and safe antibiotic use.

The infographic, podcast, video and other resources are available for free download in one package. To learn more, visit

About the Speak Up Program
In March 2002, The Joint Commission launched its Speak Up™ patient safety program. Over time, the program has expanded to more than 40 countries and features infographics, animated videos, brochures and posters.
The Joint Commission’s award-winning Speak Up program encourages consumers to:
• Speak up if you have questions or concerns.
• Pay attention to the care you get.
• Educate yourself about your illness.
• Ask a trusted family member or friend to be your advocate (advisor or supporter).
• Know what medicines you take and why you take them.
• Use a health care organization that has been carefully checked out.
• Participate in all decisions about your treatment.

There are no copyright or reprinting permissions required for the Speak Up materials or copy. All Speak Up infographics, brochures and videos are available in English and Spanish.

Source: Joint Commission

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