GENEVA—Antibiotic resistance is a widespread problem and one that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls “one of the world’s most pressing public health concerns.” To address the issue, Delnor Hospital is taking action to improve the use of antibiotics among its patients and the community.
“Bacteria that were once highly responsive to antibiotics have become increasingly resistant,” said Steven Lewis, M.D., board certified internist and infectious disease specialist at Delnor. “If antibiotics are used too often for things they can’t treat—like colds, flu or other viral infections—they become less effective against the bacteria they’re intended to treat. Not taking antibiotics exactly as prescribed can also lead to problems.”
A good example of the dangers of antibiotic resistance is the spread of MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus). Another increasingly common and serious complication of exposure to antibiotics is Clostridium difficile infection or C. diff. When C. diff is present in the bowel, exposure to an antibiotic can trigger it to produce a toxin that causes inflammation of the colon. The resulting disease can range from diarrhea to a life threatening illness.
The Antibiotic Stewardship program at Delnor was implemented in May of 2009. At the end of the fiscal year 2010 (September 2009 – August 2010), there has been a 28.5% reduction in hospital acquired cases of C. diff compared to fiscal year 2009.
Until recently, the Antibiotic Stewardship program looked to reduce the use of antibiotics within the patient population at Delnor. However, two new initiatives have recently been added which aim to lessen antibiotics usage outside of the Delnor walls and in the community.
Antibiotics are effective against bacterial infections, certain fungal infections and some kinds of parasites.
“However, antibiotics don’t work against most viruses. Taking an antibiotic when you have a viral infection won’t make you feel better—and can contribute to antibiotic resistance,” Lewis said.
Understand when antibiotics should be used. Antibiotics are effective in treating most bacterial infections, but they’re not useful against viral infections, such as colds, acute bronchitis or the flu.
Don’t pressure your doctor for antibiotics if you have a viral illness. Instead, talk with your doctor about ways to relieve your symptoms.
Take antibiotics exactly as prescribed. Follow your doctor’s instructions when taking medication. Don’t stop treatment a few days early because you’re feeling better. Taking the full course of antibiotics is the only way to kill all of the harmful bacteria.
Never take antibiotics without a prescription. Always complete the course of antibiotics you are given and don’t save for the next time or pass it along to someone else.
For more information, visit www.delnor.com/ quality.