This week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have been shining a light on antibiotic resistance through their Get Smart about Antibiotics Week campaign. We have been pleased to take part in activities marking the week, which culminated with a global Twitter Chat today. You can join the conversation by using the #AntibioticResistance hashtag.

In an effort to do their part, hospitals and health systems are reviewing their use of antibiotics so that they are used only when necessary. This helps to prevent the development of new antibiotic resistance. According to a 2015 American Society of Health-System Pharmacist National Survey on antimicrobial stewardship programs, 65 percent of hospitals have implemented an antimicrobial stewardship program, up from 45 percent in 2010. While there is still work to do, this demonstrates the progress that has been made.

Through the AHA’s Physician Leadership Forum, we created a toolkit that looks at some of the proven, effective strategies that encourage the appropriate use of antibiotics including:

  • Creating a stewardship program or enhancing an existing one that has core elements, such as leadership commitment, accountability, expertise, tracking and monitoring and education; and
  • Educating patients about why an antibiotic may or may not be used in specific situations, prescribing them only when necessary.

For example, the toolkit includes CDC’s “Antibiotics Aren’t Always the Answer” fact sheet for patients, providing quick facts on antibiotic use, as well as the ABCs of Antibiotics fact sheet from the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology. 

It will take everyone – physicians, nurses, hospitals and patients – working together to be better stewards of life-saving antibiotics. We would like you to join us in making a difference in the lives of patients. Are you in?