The University of Kentucky Public Relations and Strategic Communications Office provides a weekly health column available for use and reprint by news media. This week's column is by the Antimicrobial Stewardship Team at UK HealthCare Pharmacy Services.
LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 11, 2023) — In the U.S., more than 2.8 million antimicrobial-resistant infections occur each year. Antimicrobials — a group of essential medications including antibiotics, antivirals, antifungals and antiparasitics — are used to prevent and treat infections in humans, animals and plants.
Antimicrobial resistance happens when germs like bacteria learn how to defeat the drugs that have been designed to kill them. Resistance has the potential to affect people at any stage of life, as well as health care, veterinary and agriculture industries. This makes antimicrobial resistance one of the world’s most urgent public health problems. Antibiotics can save lives when used appropriately to fight off bacterial infections, but they are not always the answer.
Here is some important information about responsible antibiotic use:
- Antibiotics do NOT treat viruses, like those that cause colds, flu, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) or COVID-19. Other medications, like antivirals, can treat viruses.
- Antibiotics are only needed for treating certain infections caused by bacteria, but even some bacterial infections get better without antibiotics.
- When antibiotics aren’t needed they won’t help you and the side effects could still cause harm.
- If you need antibiotics, take them exactly as prescribed. Talk with your health care providers if you develop side effects or have questions about your antibiotics.
- Do your best to stay healthy and keep others healthy. This helps reduce antibiotic use and fights antimicrobial resistance.
What should you do when you feel sick?
- Contact your primary care provider.
- If you have been prescribed an antibiotic, take it the way it has been prescribed to you.
- Keep yourself and others around you healthy by washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol, covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, staying home when you are feeling under the weather, and getting all recommended vaccines like the yearly flu vaccination.
For more information, follow the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s year-round initiative, Be Antibiotics Aware: Smart Use, Best Care at www.cdc.gov/antibiotic-use/index.html.
About the UK HealthCare Antimicrobial Stewardship Program
At UK HealthCare, a dedicated team of pharmacists and physicians are fighting the battle against drug-resistant infections every day. The Antimicrobial Stewardship team is committed to overseeing the type, dose and duration of antimicrobials our patients receive to ensure the best possible clinical outcomes.
The mission of UK HealthCare’s Antimicrobial Stewardship Program is to optimize antimicrobial use to improve clinical outcomes and decrease the spread of resistance.
“The Antimicrobial Stewardship team is on clinical services, so we evaluate patients and provide guidance on the right dose and duration of antibiotics through the ID consult service. If antibiotics are not needed, we are able to discontinue use in order to decrease antibiotic resistance and protect patients from potential side effects,” said Donna Burgess, RPh, BCIDP, pharmacy coordinator of the Antimicrobial Stewardship Program.
UK HealthCare is the hospitals and clinics of the University of Kentucky. But it is so much more. It is more than 10,000 dedicated health care professionals committed to providing advanced subspecialty care for the most critically injured and ill patients from the Commonwealth and beyond. It also is the home of the state’s only National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, a Level IV Neonatal Intensive Care Unit that cares for the tiniest and sickest newborns, the region’s only Level 1 trauma center and Kentucky’s top hospital ranked by U.S. News & World Report.
As an academic research institution, we are continuously pursuing the next generation of cures, treatments, protocols and policies. Our discoveries have the potential to change what’s medically possible within our lifetimes. Our educators and thought leaders are transforming the health care landscape as our six health professions colleges teach the next generation of doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other health care professionals, spreading the highest standards of care. UK HealthCare is the power of advanced medicine committed to creating a healthier Kentucky, now and for generations to come.