November 16, 2017

Vanderbilt Antimicrobial Stewardship Program observes Antibiotic Awareness Week

It is estimated that nearly half of all antibiotic prescriptions are unnecessary or include inappropriate antibiotics, dose or duration. Antibiotic overuse and misuse has resulted in widespread antibiotic resistance, which has become a major health threat throughout the world. The U.S. National Action Plan for Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria has called for reducing inappropriate antibiotic use and improving patient outcomes through better antibiotic stewardship.  The Vanderbilt Antimicrobial Stewardship Program (VASP) strives to do just that, and this year is celebrating the annual US Antibiotic Awareness Week, Nov. 13-19, several ways:

  • Putting up posters around both adult and children's hospital
  • Having informational/educational brochures at pharmacies where pharmacists are prompted to provide this material if patient is picking up antibiotic prescription
  • Coordinating Twitter updates throughout the week via @VI4Research

"Most people know someone in their family or circle of friends who had a scare with an antibiotic resistant infection. U.S. Antibiotic Awareness week is time for us to help people make the connection between antibiotic overuse in their community and the emergence of drug resistance so close to home," said George Nelson, MD, medical director of Antimicrobial Stewardship at Vanderbilt University Adult Hospital. 

Ritu Banerjee, MD, medical director of Antimicrobial Stewardship at Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt, cites common misconceptions as an easy educational target. 

"It's tempting to prescribe or take antibiotics for a cold virus, for example. But we need to spread the word that antibiotics aren't active against viruses and could actually be causing harm," she said.