Nantucket Cottage Hospital Launches Antibiotic Stewardship Program

NANTUCKET – In an effort to combat antibiotic resistance, Nantucket Cottage Hospital and the island’s physician practices have launched the Antibiotic Stewardship Program.

The initiative is spearheaded by the hospital’s Infection Control and Pharmacy departments in collaboration with physicians, nurses, laboratorys and others.

The program aims to promote proper antibiotic prescribing and to educate the community about the safe and appropriate use of the drugs, while recognizing that some infections do not require treatment with antibiotics.

Antibiotics and similar drugs have been used for decades to treat infectious diseases and have largely been successful in reducing illness and death.

However, the drugs have been used so widely that the infectious organisms the antibiotics are designed to kill have adapted to them, making the drugs less effective.

Every year in the United States, at least 2 million people become infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics and at least 23,000 people die each year as a direct result of these infections, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The following guidelines from the CDC will be central themes of the Antibiotic Stewardship Program:

  • When antibiotics aren’t needed, they won’t help you, and the side effects could still hurt you. Common side effects of antibiotics can include rash, dizziness, nausea, diarrhea, or yeast infections. More serious side effects include Clostridium difficile infection (also called C. difficile or C. diff), which causes diarrhea that can lead to severe colon damage and death. People can also have severe and life-threatening allergic reactions.
  • Antibiotics do not work on viruses, such as colds and flu, or runny noses, even if the mucus is thick, yellow, or green.
  • Antibiotics are only needed for treating certain infections caused by bacteria. Antibiotics also won’t help for some common bacterial infections including most cases of bronchitis, many sinus infections, and some ear infections.
  • If you need antibiotics, take them exactly as prescribed. Talk with your doctor if you have any questions about your antibiotics, or if you develop any side effects, especially diarrhea, since that could be a C. difficile (C. diff) infection which needs to be treated.
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