Antibiotic resistance is when bacteria become resistant to antibiotics prescribed to treat the infection. The World Health Organization marked it as a high priority, and stated it is currently one of the biggest threats to global health. However, this is also something that is within our control with better health policies and individual responsibility on our use of antibiotics.
We interviewed Michele Coffey, our Infection Preventionist at Madison Memorial, to get her insight on this current problem and what we can do about it:
MMH: As an Infection Preventionist, what role do antibiotics play in helping you do your job?
Michele Coffey: Antibiotics are a double-edged sword for my job. We need to use them at the right dose, for the right duration, and for the correct disease in order for them to be effective. They are imperative in treating infections. With wrong use we will create superbugs in our population.
MMH: Does antibiotic resistance impact your resources to prevent infections?
Michele Coffey: Absolutely. Antibiotic resistance at this point is worldwide and scientists are not able to manufacture new antibiotics as fast as the bacterias are adapting. Here at MMH, we have an antibiogram created by the pharmacy team that shows us resistance patterns for our local population. It shows us what is less effective this year compared to what was last year. It gives us an idea of our emerging pathogen resistance rate.
MMH: How can individuals be more mindful of their antibiotic use?
Michele Coffey: People need to be aware that you don’t need to treat a virus with an antibiotic. They should ask themselves if their illness is something that can be treated with support therapy like fluids, Tylenol, and rest. Individuals should go to their physician to see if you need an antibiotic, not with the intention to receive one as their first priority. If each person would take their part in this, we could reduce the resistance rate exponentially.
Don’t forget to ask your doctor about antibiotics and how they’re the best fit for your treatment.