Advice from the UH Antimicrobial Stewardship Team
October 25, 2021
Important reminders for U.S. Antibiotic Awareness Week and throughout the year
UH Clinical Update | November 2021
Antibiotics can save lives and are critical tools for treating infections. However, any time antibiotics are used, they can cause adverse drug events and contribute to the development of antibiotic resistance. In partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in recognition of US Antimicrobial Awareness Week, we urge health care professionals to consider the following:
- Antibiotic resistance is one of the most urgent threats to the public’s health. Antibiotic-resistant infections can be difficult, and sometimes impossible, to treat.
- Follow clinical guidelines on how best to evaluate and treat infections. Antibiotics are only needed to treat certain infections caused by bacteria, not viruses like SARS-CoV-2, influenza, or RSV.
- Tell your patients why they don’t need antibiotics for viral respiratory infections, 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:
- Common side effects of antibiotics can include rash, dizziness, nausea, diarrhea, and yeast infections.
- Antibiotic-associated C. difficile infection causes severe diarrhea that can lead to severe colon damage and death.
- Antibiotics may cause severe and life-threatening allergic reactions, such as wheezing, hives, shortness of breath, and anaphylaxis.
- Antibiotics also disrupt the human microbiome, the community of naturally occurring germs in and on the body, which is important for staying healthy and preventing disease.
- Always prescribe the right antibiotic, at the right dose, for the right duration, and at the right time. Using the shortest effective duration of antibiotic therapy is a key antibiotic stewardship strategy in all health care settings.
You can find more antimicrobial resistance and stewardship resources on the CDC Be Antibiotics Aware Toolkit site or the World Health Organization Antimicrobial Awareness Week site. Additionally, visit the UH Adult (UH Intranet connection required) or UH Pediatric (UH Intranet connection required) Antimicrobial Stewardship websites or contact any UH Antimicrobial Stewardship Program administrator for details regarding UH-specific initiatives and to find out how you can contribute to greater antimicrobial awareness.