Antibiotics are commonly prescribed treatments for bacterial infections. However, utilizing antibiotics inappropriately can lead to immediate and future problems. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), antibiotics can create problems leading to an increased risk of side effects and antimicrobial resistance.

What is Antimicrobial Resistance?

Antimicrobial resistance is a growing public health threat. When bacteria, fungi and other germs are exposed to antimicrobials, those organisms can become resistant to typical treatments. This results in infections that are extremely difficult to treat.

According to the Society of Infectious Diseases Pharmacists, antibiotics are being overprescribed. About half of all antibiotic prescriptions in the U.S. may be unnecessary. This includes unnecessary antibiotics prescribed for viral infections and antimicrobials prescribed for durations that are too long.

According to the CDC, of the more than 2.8 million antimicrobial-resistant infections in the U.S. annually, more than 35,000 people die due to these infections. This number does not count the number of people who die due to complications from these infections.

At UofL Health, we are committed to protecting our patients from infection by making sure our primary care offices, Urgent Care Plus locations, specialty practices, medical centers and hospitals are clean and safe for patients, providers and staff. Preventing infections helps lower the need for antibiotic use and protect against antimicrobial resistance.

When Are Antibiotics Necessary?

Antibiotics should only be prescribed and used for bacterial infections. Some common infections that require antibiotics for treatment include ear infections, urinary tract infections, bacterial pneumonia and strep throat.

It is important to follow all directions when taking your antibiotics to ensure complete treatment of your bacterial infection. This includes taking the antibiotics at the prescribed times until the medication is gone. If your infection is not improving by the time you complete your antibiotics, it is important to alert your doctor so they can make sure your medication is still the best option for your infection.

Antibiotics should never be prescribed or used for viral or fungal infections. Viral infections can be treated with rest and medications to target symptoms. Fungal infections can be treated with antifungal medication.

If you are unsure whether or not you need antibiotics, see your primary care provider. Visit UofL Physicians – Primary Care or call 502-588-4343 to find a primary care provider near you. You can also visit one of our UofL Health – Urgent Care Plus locations.

UofL Health – Pharmacy has the following locations for your medication needs:

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Audry Hawkins, Pharm.D., BCIDP

Audry Hawkins, Pharm.D., BCIDP, is an infectious diseases trained clinical pharmacy specialist and the system clinical pharmacy coordinator for antimicrobial stewardship at UofL Health. She obtained her Pharm.D. from Sullivan University College of Pharmacy and completed her infectious diseases training at Medical University of South Carolina. In her position, she evaluates trends in antimicrobial use and resistance, finding ways to improve antimicrobial utilization at UofL Health to ensure treatments remain active for future generations. Audry’s special interests include antimicrobial stewardship education, innovation and process improvement to make it simple and accessible for health care providers.

All posts by Audry Hawkins, Pharm.D., BCIDP
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