As a health care provider, Mercy Urgent Care is committed to reducing the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria by taking proactive steps in the region it serves.
Patients visiting Mercy Urgent Care for a possible bacterial infection will find that our policy for prescribing antibiotics has changed. Patients may first be tested for the presence of harmful bacteria before being prescribed antibiotics — and, when possible in cases of mild to moderate illness, alternate treatment methods may be explored before antibiotics are prescribed.
What’s the harm?
Used to treat a number of common bacterial infections like strep throat and whooping cough, antibiotics are powerful medications that inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria in the human body. But, without proper testing, it can be impossible to know whether the source of an illness is due to bacteria or a virus, the latter of which does not benefit from treatment with antibiotics.
In 2015 alone, according to the CDC, approximately 269 million antibiotic prescriptions were written in the United States — but at least 30 percent of these prescriptions were unnecessary or unneeded. Inappropriate and unnecessary use of antibiotics directly contributes to the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Each year in the United States alone, at least 2 million people get infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and at least 23,000 people die as a result.
“Antibiotic resistance is one of the most urgent threats to the public’s health,” the CDC warns. “Every time a person takes an antibiotic, sensitive bacteria are killed, but resistant ones may be left to grow and multiply.”
Eventually, overuse and misuse of antibiotics threatens the usefulness of these important drugs. When antibiotics don’t work, infections can last longer, cause more severe illness, require more doctor visits or longer hospital stays, and involve more expensive and toxic medications. Some antibiotic-resistant infections can even cause death.
Here at Mercy Urgent Care, we’re dedicated to keeping our patients and our region safe from preventable harm — and that’s why, at all seven of our Western North Carolina facilities, we’re taking a stand against the overuse of antibiotic medications, joining the national call for antibiotic stewardship in healthcare.
When do I need antibiotics?
Antibiotics are necessary to treat common infections such as: strep throat, whooping cough and urinary tract infections — all of which are caused by the growth of harmful bacteria.
Other infections, such as sinus and middle ear infections can be caused by bacteria — but, most often, these illnesses are the work of a viral infection, for which antibiotics are of no use.
Antibiotics do not work against viral illnesses like the common cold, most sore throats, the flu, most forms of bronchitis, the stomach flu, most coughs and some ear or sinus infections. Taking an antibiotic for these illnesses will not make a patient feel better, cure the infection or keep others from getting sick. But it will contribute to antibiotic resistance — making it more difficult to treat actual bacterial infections in the future.
In order to determine whether antibiotics are needed to treat these infections, medical staff at Mercy locations may test for the presence of bacterial infection before writing a prescription.
Responsible use of antibiotics
At Mercy Urgent Care, we’re dedicated to stopping the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, making safe and responsible decisions for our patients’ care at each of our facilities, every day.
To all of our patients, we ask you take antibiotics only when they are prescribed to you — and be sure to take the full dose for the full amount of days, completing the entire course of treatment.