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Virginia healthcare community supports Be Antibiotics Aware initiative

healthcareThe week of Nov. 13-19 is U.S. Antibiotic Awareness Week, and members of Virginia’s health care community, including the Virginia Department of Health, the Medical Society of Virginia, Health Quality Innovators, and the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association are jointly supporting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Be Antibiotics Aware campaign. The goal of Be Antibiotics Aware is to remind the public and health care providers about safe antibiotic prescribing and use.

Antibiotic resistance is a challenge for health care providers and patients. Each year, at least two million Americans become infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria, resulting in 23,000 deaths. The Be Antibiotics Aware initiative helps share educational resources to assist health care professionals in improving antibiotic prescribing. It also promotes public education about the illnesses antibiotics treat, how to appropriately take antibiotics, and the side effects of antibiotics. Resources include fact sheets, a brochure, infographics, and tools for social media, video, and audio efforts. Health care providers, patients, and families are encouraged learn more about Be Antibiotics Aware by visiting www.cdc.gov/antibiotic-use.

“Collaboration to promote effective and safe antibiotic use is essential to our patients and the public,” said VHHA President and CEO Sean T. Connaughton. “We fully support the Be Antibiotics Aware campaign and its emphasis on proper use of antibiotics and commitment to prescription best practices.”

HQI, VDH, and VHHA co-chair Virginia’s Healthcare-Associated Infections (HAI) Advisory Council. In November 2016, VHHA, VDH, MSV, and HQI held a joint news conference about improving antibiotic stewardship best practices to combat antibiotic resistance, which coincided with CDC’s national “Get Smart About Antibiotics Week.” VHHA livestreamed that event on Facebook; the recording can be viewed here.

“Being ‘antibiotics aware’ means learning the facts about antibiotics, talking with your health care provider and, when necessary, taking them exactly as prescribed,” said Virginia State Health Commissioner Dr. Marissa J. Levine, MD, MPH, FAAFP. “We can all minimize our risk of illness by taking these simple preventive actions–washing our hands, getting an annual flu shot and staying home when ill. I encourage everyone to use Antibiotics Awareness Week as a chance to think about antibiotics to make sure we use them smartly and appropriately.”

“As the Medicare-funded Quality Innovation Network-Quality Improvement Organization for Virginia, we are assisting clinicians across the state as they implement antibiotic stewardship programs in their facilities,” added Donald A. Glozer, MHA, FACHE, President and CEO of Health Quality Innovators. “By working together, we can increase awareness among health care providers, patients and families about the risks of antibiotic resistance and the steps we must all take to ‘Be Antibiotic Aware’ and use antibiotics wisely.”

         

“The correct use of our antibiotic arsenal is something in which everyone can help. It makes sense that patients often request antibiotics to treat their illnesses – they have worked for so long and we’ve often assumed ‘What can they hurt? Let’s just cover patients for their condition,”’ said Dr. Kurt Elward, MD, MPH, FAAFP, President of the Medical Society of Virginia. “But it’s important for physicians to correctly prescribe and educate patients about antibiotics to help themselves, people they care about, and the future of medicine. I encourage you to use the many resources available to you and explain to patients good antibiotic stewardship. The MSV, along with all of our partners in health care, are dedicated to helping you provide effective, comforting, and responsible treatment plans for infectious diseases, and using these incredibly important medicines responsibly.”

 
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