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Everything You Need to Know About Antibiotics

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U.S. Antibiotic Awareness Week is an annual one-week observance that gives participating organizations an opportunity to raise awareness of the importance of appropriate antibiotic use to combat the threat of antibiotic resistance.

This week, four members of Ochsner Medical Center’s Antimicrobial Stewardship Program weigh in about antibiotic usage as well as what patients need to know about these medications.

What is your definition of Antimicrobial Stewardship?

Reinaldo E. Rampolla, MD (Transplant Pulmonologist): My initial idea of Antimicrobial Stewardship was that it was a way to restrict antibiotics. I have been on the Stewardship Committee at Ochsner for some years now and can say that Antimicrobial Stewardship is the process of selecting the correct diagnostic test, antibiotic and expert consultation to treat patients with challenging infections.

Setting guidelines for these processes is a key role of the Antimicrobial Stewardship Committee.

What is your biggest concern about antibiotic overuse?

Felecia Denson, MS, MT(ASCP), CIC (Director of Infection Prevention and Control): My biggest concern with regard to antibiotic overuse is the proliferation of multidrug resistant organisms also known as superbugs. There are not as many new antimicrobial agents being developed; therefore, we must rely on what is available now to treat bacterial infections as best as possible.

What is the single biggest thing you want your patients to know about antibiotics?

Fiona Winterbottom, CRN (Clinical Nurse Specialist): Take antibiotics as advised. Complete courses as prescribed. Don’t use another person’s medicine. Don’t ask for antibiotics for colds and viruses.

What is your definition of Antimicrobial Stewardship?

Emily Ramee, MD (Hospitalist Medicine): Antimicrobial Stewardship is a team-based approach of doctors, pharmacists, nurses and others who share a common aim of good prescribing practice of antimicrobials to optimally treat our patients while reducing unnecessary antimicrobial use.

At Ochsner, our team is led by an Infectious Disease specialist, Dr. Jonathan Hand. All of us who prescribe medication have an important duty to our patients and to society as a whole as "stewards" of antimicrobials, such that we prevent and treat infections with the best medication, dose, and length of treatment that minimizes toxic side effects and unnecessary antibiotic use.

What is the single biggest thing you want your patients to know about antibiotics?

Reinaldo E. Rampolla, MD (Transplant Pulmonologist): I would like patients to know that antimicrobials are medications that revolutionized the way we practice medicine. Still, they are not innocuous and can have myriad of side effects and interactions with other medications that a patient uses.

Their use should be judicious to avoid harm or discomfort to the patient and to prevent development of multi-drug resistant organisms. Before an antibiotic is started, the patient and provider should review the indication, side effects and drug interactions.

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