Conserving antibiotics for patients with a determined need
It’s the time of year when sickness is running rampant. But not every trip to the doctor constitutes a trip to the pharmacy.
RAPID CITY, S.D. — Monument Health and other hospitals are trying to reserve antibiotics for patients with a determined need. This time of year, seasonal viruses are the primary cause of infections.
Antibiotics don’t help if you have a virus and there are consequences to unnecessary prescribing.
Dr. James Keegan, Rapid City Infectious Disease Specialist, says, “Virus infections can be very serious and so it’s not a dismissive term. It’s very important to distinguish whether it’s a virus or bacteria so we know what is the appropriate treatment and not to add risk of an antibiotic if it’s not going to be beneficial.”
Some medical experts say that antibiotics often are not necessary and potentially could have a harmful effect with adverse drug reactions and drug interactions.
Keegan says, “Unfortunately we went through a phase where we’d say ‘oh here’s on antibiotic that covers everything and that way we don’t have to do testing and save you some money there’, the problem with that is that is lead to some horrendous complications across the country in ineffective antibiotics. And now it’s talked about antibiotics may not be of any benefit at all in 20 or 30 years.”
Dr. Keegan says the concept now is an antibiotic stewardship – to improve the use of medications with the goal of enhancing patient health outcomes and decreasing unnecessary costs.
“We’ve put a model in place that shows that you can preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics and we teach this model across the country to other hospitals that are interested.”
Antibiotics can harm the body’s natural bacteria. And eventually, over prescribing could result in more antibiotic-resistant bacteria, taking away an important tool in your doctor’s toolbox.
Keegan is promoting getting diagnostic testing to determine the illness then treat appropriately.
“Our diagnostic technology now is so much better that we can generally tell you which virus it is that is causing problems so we can tell you what to expect, how to protect the rest of your family, whether there is any treatment that would be effective – but that protects you from that antibiotic exposure, so that way those antibiotics remain effective for you in the future, for your children in the future, for your grandchildren for years to come,” says Keegan.
Dr. Keegan also stresses if you haven’t yet, you should still get the influenza vaccination- it’s the best way to protect yourself.
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