Antibiotic Awareness Week

PUBLISHED: Nov 12, 2018
Relevant to: All Healthcare Organizations

November 12th through 16th is U.S. Antibiotics Awareness Week, an annual one-week observance that gives participating organizations an opportunity to raise awareness of the importance of appropriate antibiotic use to combat the threat of antibiotic resistance. This is a good time for organizations to review antibiotic stewardship polices with their prescribers.

Key Messages for All Prescribers:

  • Antibiotic resistance is one of the most urgent threats to the public’s health.
  • Each year in the United States, at least 2 million people are with antibiotic-resistant bacteria; at least 23,000 people die as a result.
  • Antibiotic resistance does not mean the body is becoming resistant to antibiotics; it means bacteria develop the ability to defeat the antibiotics designed to kill them.
  • When bacteria become resistant, antibiotics cannot fight them, and the bacteria multiply.
  • Some resistant bacteria can be hard or impossible to treat and can spread to other people.

Key Messages for Outpatient Healthcare Professionals:

  • Follow clinical guidelines on whether to prescribe antibiotics and when prescribing antibiotics, to prescribe the right antibiotic at the right dose for the right duration at the right time.
  • Shortening the duration of antibiotic therapy to the minimum effective duration is a key antibiotic stewardship strategy in all settings of health care. The goal is to maximize the benefit to the patient by curing the infection while at the same time minimizing the risks of antibiotic resistance and side effects from antibiotics.
  • Protect your patients. Only prescribe antibiotics when they are needed. You can do harm by prescribing antibiotics that aren’t needed.
  • Tell your patients why they don’t need antibiotics for a viral infection, what to do to feel better, and when to seek care again if they don’t feel better.
  • Talk to your patients and their families about possible harms from antibiotics, such as allergic reactions, C. difficile, and antibiotic-resistant infections.
  • Educate your patients and their families so they can recognize the signs and symptoms of sepsis and know when to seek medical care for possible sepsis.
  • Perform hand hygiene and follow infection prevention measures with every patient.

Key Messages for Inpatient & Long Term Care Healthcare Professionals:

  • Follow clinical guidelines when prescribing antibiotics.
  • Always remember to prescribe the right antibiotic, at the right dose, for the right duration, and at the right time.
  • Review antibiotic therapy 48 to 72 hours after it is started based on the patient’s/resident’s clinical condition and microbiology culture results and stop or change antibiotic orders as needed, a critical step in care.
  • Talk to patients/residents and families about when antibiotics are and are not needed, and discuss possible harms such as allergic reactions, C. difficile, and antibiotic-resistant infections.
  • Be aware of antibiotic resistance patterns in your facility and community; use the data to inform prescribing decisions.
  • Perform hand hygiene and follow infection prevention measures with every patient/resident.

Included with today’s StayAlert! Notice are example policies related to antibiotic stewardship and a link to CDC’s resources related antibiotic awareness and appropriate use.

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