Drew Memorial Health System has joined a statewide antibiotic stewardship and infection prevention collaborative recently formed to address the increasing dangers resulting from multiple drug-resistance organisms (MDRO).

The program is established with a one-year grant funded by the Arkansas Department of Health and administered by Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care (AFMC).

The collaborative will support pharmacists at Arkansas hospitals and nursing homes in their efforts to reduce unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions and to improve infection prevention related to patient transitions between health care facilities. The collaborative includes 37 hospitals and 21 nursing homes across Arkansas.

The collaboration announcement coincides with U.S. Antibiotic Awareness Week Nov. 12-16. This annual national observance by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Be Antibiotics Aware,” provides an opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of using antibiotics appropriately to combat the threat of antibiotic resistance.

Antibiotic resistance happens when bacteria develop the ability to defeat the drugs designed to kill them. It does not mean the body is becoming resistant to antibiotics; it means bacteria mutate and antibiotics are no longer effective. Each 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 as a direct result. Many more die from complications from antibiotic-resistant infections.

The CDC recommends consumers consider these facts:

•When you need an antibiotic, the benefits outweigh the risks of side effects and antibiotic resistance.

•Antibiotics aren’t always the answer. They do not work on viruses such as those that cause colds, flu, bronchitis or runny noses.

•When antibiotics aren’t needed, they won’t help you, and the side effects could cause harm.

•If you need antibiotics and they are prescribed to you, take them exactly as prescribed. Talk to your doctor if you have any questions.

For more information about antimicrobial resistance, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website.

For more information about the Antibiotic Stewardship and Infection Prevention Collaborative, visit afmc.org/drugsandbugs.