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The President has proclaimed Nov. 16-22 “Get Smart About Antibiotics Week.” Get Smart Week builds on the momentum generated at the White House Forum on Antibiotic Stewardship, where more than 150 organizations pledged to improve antibiotic use and slow the spread of antibiotic resistance.
Antibiotic resistance – the rise of deadly germs no longer stopped by the drugs that once controlled them – threatens to take us back to the days when minor infections commonly killed.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that each year 2 million Americans get an infection with an antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Every year 23,000 of those patients die. CDC has made combating antibiotic resistance a top priority and is partnering with public institutions and private industry to overcome this challenge. It is critical to use these life-saving drugs when truly necessary, such as when treating patients with sepsis, while also using the right drug at the right dose and duration to protect the effectiveness of antibiotics.
“Antibiotic resistance is one of the deadliest health threats facing the world,” says CDC director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH. “These pledges will help protect the antibiotics we have so we can use these miracle drugs to save lives for years to come.”
State health departments, non-profit partners, industry partners, healthcare workers, and parents all have an important role in the fight against antibiotic resistance.
• Ascension Health launches stewardship initiative: Ascension is creating stewardship programs throughout its care sites. A new Center of Excellence will focus on antimicrobial stewardship efforts system-wide.
• Hospital Corporation of America (HCA): HCA joined with CDC to track antibiotic prescriptions in HCA facilities by automatically collecting and reporting monthly antibiotic-use data using CDC’s National Healthcare Safety Network. Data can be analyzed and fed back to caregivers to guide patient-care decisions.
• Premier Safety Institute commits to reducing antibiotic resistance: First launch of a collaborative of more than 50 hospitals working to implement CDC Core Elements of an Antibiotic Stewardship Programs as well as reducing the overuse of specific antimicrobials that were identified in research conducted by Premier and in collaboration with the CDC.
• Walmart public service announcement (PSA) on appropriate antibiotic use: Walmart created educational videos for checkout lines across the country so that customers get clear information on antibiotic resistance and what they can do to improve antibiotic use.
• Major airlines run in-flight PSA: State health departments such as the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services have led the way in partnering to improve educational awareness about antibiotic stewardship. An in-flight PSA about antibiotic stewardship, produced by the Michigan Antibiotic Resistance Reduction (MARR) Coalition, is now featured on Jet Blue and other airlines.
• The Pew Charitable Trust briefing on Capitol Hill featuring supermoms: A Pew coalition of “Supermoms against Superbugs” will join the Pew Charitable Trust and CDC Director Dr. Frieden at a Capitol Hill Briefing on November 18, 2015. Pew is also partnering with CDC to establish national targets to improve the use of antibiotics in support of the goals outlined in the National Action Plan on Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria.
• Consumer Reports: CDC is partnering with Consumer Reports and the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) Foundation in support of the Choosing Wisely campaign.
• U.S. State Department toolkit: The State Department is piloting a toolkit for use by 10 U.S. embassies with a focus on improving antibiotic use.
• Society for Hospital Medicine’s Educational Campaign for Hospitalists (SHM): SHM’s antibiotic stewardship campaign targets hospitalists –a pivotal group of doctors who care for hospitalized patients – an important group for improving antibiotic use.
• Global Twitter Chat: Hosted by the European Union’s Antibiotic Awareness Day (Nov. 18, 2015), the 24-hour chat will use the hashtag #AntibioticResistance and unite CDC experts and partners in a global conversation about antibiotic resistance. CDC experts will lead the conversation from 2-4 p.m. ET.
• The latest U.S. antibiotic prescribing rate map: While overuse of antibiotics is happening in every state across the country, community antibiotic prescribing rates in some states are two times greater than in other states, suggesting opportunities for improvement.
• U.S. hospital stewardship programs map: The percentage of hospitals reported by states as having antibiotic stewardship programs following all 7 of CDC Core Elements of Antibiotic Stewardship Programs varies from state to state from a low of 7 percent to a high of 58 percent. The national goal is for 100 percent of all U.S. hospitals to have antibiotic stewardship programs by 2020.
The CDC is working to track antibiotic use and the spread of antibiotic-resistant infections in the U.S. It is also exploring new ways to stop the rise of antibiotic resistance. The agency encourages clinicians to improve prescribing habits and patients to ask their providers if antibiotics are truly needed for their care. CDC data are used to identify hotspots in need of attention, and the CDC-run isolate bank assists industry partners working to develop new antibiotics and rapid diagnostic tests, contributing to the global effort to combat antibiotic resistance.
“All of us can take action. The way we use antibiotics today impacts how useful they will be tomorrow. We all have a responsibility to be vigilant: consumers, parents, healthcare providers, hospitals, governments. We are especially pleased that many organizations and companies are joining the ranks to promote public awareness,” says Lauri Hicks, DO, director of CDC’s Office of Antibiotic Stewardship.
Everyone can take action to improve antibiotic prescribing and antibiotic use:
• Clinicians can improve prescribing practices. CDC estimates that more than half of the antibiotics given for upper respiratory infections and nearly a third of antibiotics used in hospitals are prescribed inappropriately. Antibiotics can only treat illnesses caused by bacteria. They don’t treat viral illnesses like the common cold, the flu, most sore throats, bronchitis and many sinus and ear infections.
• Patients can get smart about antibiotics. Learn the 6 smart facts about antibiotic use. CDC recommends that antibiotics be taken as prescribed. They should not be shared or saved for the next illness, and doses should not be skipped or stopped unless instructed by a clinician. Rather than pressuring your healthcare provider to prescribe antibiotics, ask what steps you can take to feel better.
• Prevent infections by practicing good hand hygiene. CDC recommends washing your hands under running water with soap for 15 seconds, or rubbing them with an alcohol-based handrub and letting them dry thoroughly.
• Protect yourself. Get vaccinated against the flu and other vaccine-preventable infections to avoid complications or the need for antibiotics in the first place.