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Hendrick highlights importance of appropriate antibiotic use during national awareness week, Nov. 12-18

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During one week every November, Hendrick Medical Center hopes community members will take time to learn more about antibiotic use and the increasing threat of antibiotic resistance. This year, National Antibiotic Awareness Week is Nov. 12-18.

Antibiotics are among the most commonly prescribed drugs and, when used correctly, save millions of lives each year. Inappropriate use can trigger a range of side effects and can lead to antibiotic resistance, which causes two million illnesses and 23,000 deaths each year in the U.S.

“When you’re sick, antibiotics are not always the answer,” said Greg Perry, pharmacy clinical manager and infectious diseases pharmacist at Hendrick Medical Center. “Antibiotics do not work on viruses, such as those that cause colds, flu, bronchitis or runny noses. It’s important not to pressure your healthcare provider for an antibiotic. They will know if indeed an antibiotic is needed.”

Antibiotic resistance occurs when germs like bacteria and fungi develop the ability to defeat the drugs that are designed to kill them. Because the germs are not destroyed, they will continue to grow. Infections caused by antibiotic-resistant germs are difficult, and sometimes impossible, to treat. Antibiotic resistance does not mean the body is becoming resistant to antibiotics. It means that bacteria have become resistant to the antibiotics designed to kill them.

In most cases, antibiotic-resistant infections require extended hospital stays, additional doctor visits and costly and toxic alternatives.

Perry, who implemented the Antibiotic Stewardship Program (AMS) at Hendrick Medical Center, said the misuse of antibiotics puts everyone at risk.

“Hendrick Medical Center monitors antibiotic utilization and resistance patterns internally and in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” said Perry. “We are proud to be a nationally designated Antimicrobial Stewardship Center of Excellence by the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA).”

Perry believes education is key, and suggests patients talk with their healthcare provider if they have questions about antibiotics.