AFMC has launched a statewide antibiotic stewardship and infection prevention collaborative to address the increasing dangers resulting from multiple drug-resistance organisms (MDRO). The 12-month grant, funded by the Arkansas Department of Health, will support pharmacists at Arkansas hospitals and nursing homes in their efforts to reduce unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions and to improve infection prevention related to patient transitions between health care facilities. The collaborative includes 37 hospitals and 21 nursing homes across Arkansas.

The collaboration announcement coincides with the U.S. Antibiotic Awareness Week Nov. 12-16, 2018. This annual observance provides an opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of using antibiotics appropriately to combat the threat of antibiotic resistance.

“At least 30 percent of the antibiotics in outpatient settings are prescribed unnecessarily,” said Chad Rodgers, MD, FAAP, chief medical officer for AFMC. “Any time antibiotics are used, they can cause side effects and lead to antibiotic resistance, one of the most urgent threats to the public’s health.”

Antibiotic resistance happens when bacteria develop the ability to defeat the drugs designed to kill them. It does not mean the body is becoming resistant to antibiotics; it means bacteria mutate and antibiotics are no longer effective. Each year in the United States, at least 2 million people become infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics and at least 23,000 people die as a direct result. Many more die from complications from antibiotic-resistant infections.

“Antibiotics can save lives and are critical tools for treating many common and more serious infections, like those that can lead to sepsis – a potentially deadly blood infection,” Dr. Rodgers added. Antibiotic drug reactions or negative side effects cause 20 percent of all medication-related emergency room visits.

“Improving the way health care professionals prescribe antibiotics and educating consumers about how and when to take antibiotics, helps keep everyone healthy,” said Dr. Rodgers. “Exercising stewardship about antibiotics will help ensure that these lifesaving drugs will be available for future generations.”

The CDC recommends these tips for hospitals and nursing homes: Prescribe the right antibiotic, at the right dose, for the right duration and at the right time. Antibiotic therapy should be reviewed 48 to 72 hours after it is started, and stop or change antibiotics, based on the patient’s lab results. Physicians should educate their patients about when antibiotics are or are not needed, as well as antibiotic’s possible harms, including allergic reactions, and worsening and resistant infections.

For more information visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website at https://www.cdc.gov/antibiotic-use/week/toolkit.html

For more information about the Antibiotic Stewardship and Infection Prevention Collaborative, visit afmc.org/drugsandbugs.