It’s time to celebrate the other holiday in November. That’s right: It’s U.S. Antibiotic Awareness Week — and from Nov. 18-24, Mercy Urgent Care would like to remind area patients of its antibiotics policy, including the reasons why these rules are in place.
Used to treat a number of common bacterial infections like strep throat and whooping cough, antibiotics are powerful and often life-saving medications that inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria in the human body. However, the CDC estimates that at least 30 percent of the antibiotics prescribed in the United States are unneeded or unnecessary for treatment.
Inappropriate and unnecessary use of antibiotics directly contributes to the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which the CDC calls “one of the most urgent threats to the public’s health.” 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.
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.
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.
“Every time a person takes an antibiotic, sensitive bacteria are killed, but resistant ones may be left to grow and multiply,” the CDC explains on its website.
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’ve taken a stand against the overuse of antibiotic medications, joining the national call for antibiotic stewardship in healthcare.
Patients visiting Mercy with a possible bacterial infection 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.
For more information about antibiotics prescriptions through Mercy — or to learn more about illnesses that require antibiotics for treatment, visit our Antibiotics Policy page.