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Antibiotic Resistance and How to Fight It

Written by Mariya Rizwan, PharmD

Antibiotics are life-saving drugs given when a patient is diagnosed with a bacterial infection. With an increasing number of infections, the rate of antibiotic use is also increasing rapidly. However, a common problem with their use is antibiotic resistance.

It is essential to talk about antibiotic resistance, which makes treating an infection arduous and costly and increases deaths. Antibiotic resistance remains a threat to the people, and the stats show an alarming situation.

In the United States, each year, more than 2.8 million infections occur from antibiotic-resistant bacteria, leading to more than 35,000 deaths. Antibiotic resistance adds $20 billion in direct healthcare costs annually in the United States.

With antibiotic resistance comes increased hospital stays, long-term checkups, difficult-to-treat infections, increased mortality, and other problematic outcomes. This makes antibiotic resistance an economic burden on the healthcare system.

Controlling and preventing antibiotic resistance is essential because of the economic burden it causes and because it makes infections difficult to treat, leading to increased deaths and the spread of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria. Healthcare providers play an essential role in preventing and controlling antibiotic resistance. Here in this article, we will discuss the role of healthcare providers in preventing antibiotic resistance.

Causes of Antibiotic Resistance

Antibiotic resistance occurs due to misuse, when antibiotics are given when not needed, or when the patient is noncompliant with antibiotics. Healthcare providers and patients can play a role in preventing antibiotic resistance.

For example, prescribing antibiotics for a viral infection such as the flu and colds can lead to antibiotic resistance because most respiratory tract infections do not require an antibiotic.

When the patient stops taking antibiotics abruptly or takes in lower doses than prescribed, the bacteria change their deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) makeup, leading to a mutated strain that’s even more difficult to treat. Therefore, as a healthcare provider, always encourage the patient to take the antibiotic as prescribed and not to alter its frequency or dose as it can lead to antibiotic resistance.

How Can Health Care Providers Prevent Antibiotic Resistance?

Healthcare professionals can play a role in preventing antibiotic resistance by taking the following measures:

Prescribe Antibiotics Carefully

When you prescribe antibiotics, make sure they are truly needed. Ensure you do not prescribe it for a viral infection in which antibiotics are ineffective. Also, recheck the appropriate dose and frequency with the appropriate guidelines. It can help prevent resistance because antibiotics, if prescribed at a lower-than-usual dose or frequency, can lead to the emergence of a mutated strain.

Before you start antibiotic therapy, and if the time permits, try to get a culture and sensitivity test done to know if antibiotics are needed and which ones are effective, and plan accordingly. Doing that can streamline the process and help in lowering antibiotic resistance.

Educate Your Patients

Patient education with antibiotic therapy is necessary as a lack thereof significantly leads to antibiotic resistance. Educate patients to take the antibiotic regularly as prescribed and directed. Encourage them to call in if they have mild adverse drug reactions, such as upset stomach, before discontinuing the antibiotic. Guide them to report to you immediately if they have any adverse drug reactions. Misusing antibiotics can be dangerous and make an existing infection even more difficult to treat. Therefore, patient compliance is vital in preventing antibiotic resistance.

Educate your patients about how to prevent infections. Encourage them to practice safe sex, get vaccinated on time, wash their hands regularly, cover their nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, and wear masks in public.

Use Good Hand Hygiene

As a healthcare provider, you can become a source of transmitting infections from one person to another. Therefore, you should practice good hand hygiene. Change your gloves and sanitize your hands after checking every patient so that the infection does not transmit from one to another. With that, ensure your instruments are sterilized and your environment is clean. Also, educate patients on using good hand hygiene.

Take the Antibiotic Stewardship Pledge

Help support the efforts of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) and other organizations by taking a pledge to prescribe antibiotics safely.

The Bottom Line

Antibiotic resistance has become a real threat to healthcare. When first-line antibiotics don’t work, you have to start broad-spectrum antibiotics that are expensive and can lead to increased antibiotic resistance.

Antibiotic resistance has led to increased hospital stays, expensive medications, a longer duration of illness, and increased provider visits that contribute to economic burdens. It has also put the achievements of modern medicine at risk. Because of antibiotic resistance, organ transplants, surgeries, and chemotherapy have become problematic. Therefore, healthcare providers have to play an active role in preventing it. Make sure to prescribe antibiotics only when needed. Otherwise, if possible, avoid antibiotic use for flu and mild illnesses.

About the Author:

Mariya Rizwan is an experienced pharmacist who has been working as a medical writer for four years. Her passion lies in crafting articles on topics ranging from Pharmacology, General Medicine, Pathology to Pharmacognosy.

Mariya is an independent contributor to CEUfast’s Nursing Blog Program.

Please note that the views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this blog post are solely of the independent contributor and do not necessarily represent those of CEUfast. This blog post is not medical advice. Always consult with your personal healthcare provider for any health-related questions or concerns.

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