The future of antibiotics depends on us. Why? Because each year in the United States, at least 2.8 million people are infected with antibiotic-resistant germs. Antibiotic resistance is one of the most urgent threats to public health. It is a common problem that occurs when bacteria in your body change, making it difficult for the medicine to fight the bacteria because it is repeatedly exposed to the same medication. It can also be a result of bacteria being left in your body. These bacteria will multiply and become more robust, and one day, you might get an illness that can’t be treated by antibiotics.
Yes, antibiotics are essential to treat infections and have saved countless lives. However, anytime antibiotics are used, they can cause side effects and contribute to antibiotic resistance. When antibiotics are needed, the benefits usually outweigh the risks of side effects or antibiotic resistance. However, too many antibiotics are prescribed unnecessarily and misused, threatening the use of these critical drugs. This is why we all must use antibiotics ONLY when we need them to protect us from harm caused by unnecessary antibiotic use and to combat antibiotic resistance.
Q&A with Kyle Guay, PharmD, BCGP
We sat down with one of our pharmacists at Community Care to help us get to the bottom of antibiotic resistance. Meet Kyle Guay, PharmD, BCGP. He earned his Doctor of Pharmacy degree from Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences and is board certified in geriatric pharmacy. He loves caring for patients and helping them meet their overall health goals. Kyle is also a member of the American College of Clinical Pharmacy, active in volunteer work, is a board member of the Capital District Board of Advisors for the American Cancer Society, and serves on the Joy Us Foundation, Inc board of directors.
Q: How big of a problem is antibiotic resistance?
A: This problem is huge. We have typical infections that are now not responding to commonly prescribed and available antibiotics – putting patients at higher risk for side effects and complications from antibiotics that typically would not be necessary to treat the basic infections.
Q: What is causing antibiotic resistance?
A: The issue of antibiotic resistance is caused by multiple factors. With the advent of Urgent Care’s popping up all over, patients tend to quickly go to Urgent Care vs. calling their primary care first – and unfortunately, many patients “demand” treatment with an antibiotic if they are going to be seen. The providers in Urgent Care offices typically do not have access to the patient’s records, so they do not fully understand the patient’s history and what antibiotics they have been trialed on in the past, or how frequently they may have “infections.” We live in a society where we want a “fix” and have lost patience with waiting for common illness to take their course. In many situations, the illnesses that are being treated with antibiotics are viral in nature and won’t respond to antibiotics, but we feel better thinking we are receiving a medicine to help. Therefore, our bodies are exposed to these antibiotics when they aren’t warranted. Any bacteria in our systems get adjusted to being exposed, so when an actual bacterial infection arises, they won’t respond well to the typical antibiotics… therefore leading to resistance.
Q: What is the patient’s responsibility?
A: The patient’s responsibility is to understand that not every cough, runny nose, or cold requires an antibiotic and they should not expect to receive an antibiotic just because you make an appointment to be seen. In most cases, there are just supportive measures that need to be taken, such as increased fluid intake, over the counter pain and fever medications, and cough suppressants. Patients should always call their primary care office first before seeking care at Urgent Care. Our offices are staffed with well-trained registered nurses that assist in triaging patients based on symptoms and needs, and we are able to see patients virtually and help treat them accordingly. The biggest thing for patients to understand is that they need patience. Many common viral infections will take a few days to run their course, and an antibiotic won’t help.
Q: What is being done to stop antibiotic resistance?
A: We are routinely providing staff education to providers, clinical and clerical staff surrounding antibiotic resistance. Offices have handouts to provide to patients that explain why they may not be getting an antibiotic during their visit. We continue to have a conversation with patients, caregivers, and the full care team about the appropriate use of antibiotics.
Antibiotics have served as the cornerstone of modern medicine, so improving antibiotic prescribing and use has become a national priority. During U.S. Antibiotic Awareness Week, we hope to raise awareness of the threat of antibiotic resistance and the importance of appropriate antibiotic use. So, make sure you are doing your part to use antibiotics responsibly! Our team of clinical pharmacists are embedded in many of our Community Care practices. If you think clinical pharmacy would benefit you, contact your CCP practitioner directly to discuss this service.
Source: https://www.cdc.gov/antibiotic-use/ https://www.cdc.gov/drugresistance/pdf/5-Things-To-Know-H.pdf