Southwest Health supports CDC’s ‘Be Antibiotics Aware’ effort

Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017 12:04 PM
Clostridium difficile bacterium. The intestinal bug sickens nearly twice as many Americans each year as was previously thought, according to a study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 23015.

Southwest Health System joins the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in encouraging patients, families and health care professionals to “Be Antibiotics Aware” by learning about antibiotic safety.

The World Antibiotic Awareness Week and U.S. Antibiotic Awareness Week began Monday.

Antibiotic stewardship is a priority at Southwest Health System, SHS public relations director Haley Saunders said Tuesday in a news release. SHS pharmacist Marc J. Meyer has collaborated with the CDC, Colorado Hospital Association and consumer watchdog agencies on the problem of antibiotic resistance, which occurs when bacteria no longer respond to the drugs designed to kill them.

In a 2013 report, the CDC said at least 2 million people become infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and 23,000 die. Most of the fatal infections occurred in health care settings such as hospitals and nursing homes, the CDC said.

The awareness campaign provides resources to help health care professionals improve antibiotic prescriptions and informs the public on antibiotic treatments, use and side effects. Resources include fact sheets, a brochure, infographics, and social media, video and audio tools.

Antibiotics treat infections such as pneumonia and life-threatening conditions such as sepsis but won’t help some common bacterial infections such as most cases of bronchitis, many sinus infections and some ear infections.

Antibiotics can cause side effects and lead to antibiotic resistance, even when they’re needlessly used. Common side effects may include rashes and yeast infections, and severe problems like Clostridium difficile infection, which may cause diarrhea, colon damage and death. Antibiotics do not work on viruses such as colds and flu.

Take antibiotics exactly as prescribed, Saunders said. “Patients and families can talk to their health care professional if they have questions about their antibiotics, or if they develop side effects, especially diarrhea,” she said.

“We can all stay healthy and keep others healthy by cleaning our hands, covering our coughs, staying home when sick, and getting recommended vaccines, for the flu, for example,” Saunders said.

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