Quality and Population Health

Antibiotic Resistance: What We All Can Do to Address This Global Health Threat

Deirdre Minihan, PharmD, BCPSBy Deirdre Minihan, PharmD, BCPS
Clinical Coordinator for Infectious Diseases, Pharmacy Dept.

Last month’s Infection Prevention Update provided an overview of antibiotic stewardship—a comprehensive antimicrobial management program to improve patient outcomes from infection, minimize adverse effects such as healthcare-associated infections, and limit bacterial resistance.

Between 20 and 50% of all antibiotics prescribed in U.S. acute care hospitals are either unnecessary or inappropriate—meaning patients are placed at risk for serious adverse events with no clinical benefit. Misuse of antibiotics has also contributed to the growing problem of antibiotic resistance, one of the most serious and growing threats to public health. The misuse of antibiotics can adversely impact the health of patients who are not even exposed to them. In fact, the CDC estimates more than 2 million people are infected with antibiotic-resistant organisms, resulting in approximately 23,000 deaths annually.

At Englewood Health, our antibiotic stewardship program follows the CDC’s core elements of such programs: leadership commitment, accountability, drug expertise, action, tracking, reporting, and education. But to continue to be successful, we must all do everything we can to address the antibiotic-resistance problem. Here are just a few ways:

  1. Prevent infections in the first place through proper hand hygiene, infection prevention precautions, and use of PPE (see this month’s Topic in Focus for more information).
  2. Judiciously prescribe antibiotics. Providers should only prescribe antibiotics when absolutely necessary. The antibiotic stewardship program includes a feedback mechanism to ordering clinicians and formulary
    restrictions with preauthorization.
  3. Look for best practice alerts (BPA) in Epic. A BPA reminds providers to regularly review their patient’s antibiotics and determine if the antibiotics can be stopped or the spectrum narrowed.
  4. Take antibiotics as directed. If you are personally prescribed antibiotics, be sure to take the full course to prevent germs from becoming resistant to the medication.

By following the concept of “think globally, act locally,” we can all contribute to better health for our patients, our communities, and our world.