September 22, 2017

All this talk about “Antibiotic Stewardship”… What’s that mean?

General Health

What the heck is “Antibiotic Stewardship?”

So you may have been hearing more and more about antibiotic and antimicrobial stewardship, or even heard a few news groups talk about antibiotic resistance. The topic of antibiotic stewardship was even discussed by the White House, who convened a Forum on Antibiotic Stewardship in 2015, bringing together key officials from human and animal health agencies to help in the development, promotion and implementation of an improved national plan for antibiotic use.

You might ask, “What’s it all mean? How does it affect me? Should I care?”

Antibiotic/Antimicrobial Stewardship Programs aim to slow the emergence of resistant bacteria, and prevent the spread of resistant infections. At Fort HealthCare we understand the impact the risk of infection has on our community. Sick friends and family mean lost days at work, lost income and lost opportunities to be doing the things we love!

Our Fort HealthCare Antimicrobial Stewardship Program wants you to know there are ways you can help to protect yourself, your loved ones and your community from the spread of resistant bacteria and infections.

  1. Keep up on vaccinations.
    1. Vaccinations help to prevent infections that may require the use of antibiotics. We can reduce the risk of resistant bacteria by not getting sick – then we don’t need to use antibiotics!
  2. Hand Washing
    1. Washing your hands and reminding your children and grandchildren to wash their hands is one of the BEST ways to keep yourself and your family healthy. Washing hands helps to prevent the spread of bacteria and germs on our hands, these same germs and bacteria that can make us sick and cause an infection.
  3. Ask about symptom relief.
    1. When you don’t feel well, follow up with your healthcare provider like usual but when he or she doesn’t order antibiotics for you or your child – it doesn’t mean you are stuck feeling this way for the next few days – ask more questions about what you could do instead of antibiotics to feel better. And… remember to talk to your Pharmacist too! We love to share ideas and suggestions about how to feel better, even without antibiotics.
  4. Only take antibiotics for an infection caused by bacteria.
    1. Illnesses can be caused by viruses – like the common cold or flu – antibiotics cannot kill or destroy viruses. Antibiotic do have side effects too! If we use antibiotics on viruses, which they cannot kill or destroy – we contribute to “resistance”. Stating it very simply – I like to think of some bacteria like “secret spies”. These spies are just waiting for a glimpse at the healthcare provider’s secret weapons – antibiotics. When they spot an antibiotic they get useful “Intel”, like how it looks and acts, and then they share that info with all their friends! Now all the bacteria the spies came into contact with are prepared for our secret weapon, antibiotics, and they know how to fight back! So we get sicker instead of feeling better. We have to stop these “spies” by not sharing our secret weapons – antibiotics.
  5. Ask if watchful waiting is right for you.
    1. Sometimes our body and our natural immune system are strong enough to destroy bacteria without the use of antibiotics. Our body is amazing. Things like mild sinus and ear infections can and do get better without antibiotics. Follow up with your healthcare provider when you or your child is not feeling well, and if your healthcare provider suggests watchful waiting know that he or she would ONLY recommend that plan if they felt you would improve without antibiotics.
  6. Take antibiotics EXACTLY as prescribed and NEVER SHARE!
    1. Your healthcare provider wrote you a prescription with the exact way to take your antibiotic. Different antibiotics require different doses (200 mg vs 1000 mg), they have different frequencies (once each day vs four times each day) and they have different durations (for 3 days vs for 10 days vs 14 days). It’s so important that you do your best to never skip or miss doses and that you continue to take the entire antibiotic until it’s gone. Thinking about those secret bacterial “spies” again; if we don’t finish all of the antibiotics and save some for the next time we are not feeling well, some of those bacterial “spies” were able to get “intel” on the antibiotic that was not completely finished. It’s possible the bacterial spies got away, and even though we might feel better – those bacterial spies might share that information about your healthcare provider’s secret weapon, antibiotics, with their bacteria friends. So next time you need an antibiotic that antibiotic might not work. We should never share medications, including antibiotics! The antibiotic prescribed to you was intended for YOU. Your healthcare provider looked at your allergies, your weight, your height, your health history (do you have kidney problems, do you have high blood pressure or diabetes) to make sure you got the most helpful antibiotic that works for YOU! Sharing any medication can hurt your friends or family and should not be done.
  7. Learn more!
    1. To learn more see the website or the Fort HealthCare website for more information about how to stay healthy, to learn more about antibiotics and to see how you can do your part to be the Healthiest Community in Wisconsin! See your healthcare provider with questions and don’t forget your pharmacist is happy to answer questions too!