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Get the Facts About Antibiotics

By David Berman, DO MS FAAP

At this point in time, you are probably being bombarded by the media with Ebola and Enterovirus D68! However, a much greater problem in the United States has been the inappropriate use of antibiotics, the development of antimicrobial resistance and adverse events from antimicrobial therapy, including Clostridium difficile –associated diarrhea.

The week of November 17-21, 2014 is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Get Smart About Antibiotics Week. This is an annual event to raise awareness of antibiotic resistance and to educate about the appropriate and safe use of antimicrobial therapy.

For this event, the CDC works closely with many partners, including the SHARPS Collaborative (Sharing Antimicrobial Reports for Pediatric Stewardship). The SHARPS Collaborative is a working group of 24 free-standing US Children’s Hospitals.

Here are some facts that you can use to educate other physician colleagues and patients:

-Institute of Medicine and the CDC have recognized that antimicrobial resistance is a key threat to the health of the citizens of the United States

-Up to 70% of United States antibiotics are provided to animals that are not sick

-Antibiotics are the 2nd most commonly used class of drugs and prescribing is highest for pediatrics

-In pediatrics, adverse reactions to antibiotics result in frequent emergency room visits, more than any other prescribed medication in children

-More than half of antibiotics prescribed in the outpatient setting are unnecessary (antibiotics being prescribed for common viral respiratory illness)

-More than half of antibiotic prescribing is inappropriate (treatment is not indicated, wrong drug is chosen to target the infection and the duration is too long)

-Thirty to Fifty percent of hospitalized patients will receive antibiotics

-C. difficile is linked to 14,000 deaths each year

-Antimicrobial resistance is on the rise and novel antimicrobial development is on the decline

Please visit the CDC website for more information: 

David Berman works at the​ Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at All Children's Hospital, Johns Hopkins Medicine in St. Petersburg, FL.​

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