The old saying too much is not enough doesn’t apply when it comes to society’s use of antibiotics.
An alarming trend is growing worldwide as antibiotic resistance is rising to dangerously high levels and is threatening our ability to treat common, infectious diseases, according to some health officials.
Research is showing Newfoundland and Labrador is prescribing more antibiotics per capita than anywhere else in Canada and several organizations in this province are banding together to try and get a conversation started on this alarming trend.
To bring the information surrounding this overuse to the forefront, the Faculty of Medicine at Memorial University’s Quality of Care NL program, has partnered with Choosing Wisely NL and the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association to echo the World Health Organization’s recognition of World Antibiotic Awareness week from Nov. 13-19.
“What we are trying to accomplish is an awareness for the public and for physicians is the importance of having the conversation, and why it’s important,” Lynn Taylor, manager of Quality Care NL said Friday.
“Patients that are tired of being sick, need to be told that sometimes you just have to wait it out because their infection is not the type that warrants the use of an antibiotic,’’ she added.
She said she knows that is not what people want to hear, especially when a sick child involved, but the research has been confirmed that overuse or over-prescribing of antibiotics leads to resistance from a build up of the drugs in the patient and then when they have an issue where they actually need it, it doesn’t work.
In addition, she said, from a physician’s angle, it gives them some help when they are telling people to wait it out.
Throughout the next four weeks, the Quality of Care initiatives — part of the Translational and Personalize Medicine Initiative with NL SUPPORT — are going to focus on several key messages about antibiotics.
Those topics will include:
• Bacterial resistance as a global issue
• Antibiotics use in N.L./province-specific messaging
• The length of infection as an indicator for antibiotic use
• When should one use/who needs antibiotics
The focus of Quality of Care NL projects is to ensure the appropriate health care across the province gets the right interventions for the right patients and the correct time.
Quality of Care NL has partnered with Choosing Wisely Canada, a program focused on reducing the use of unnecessary tests where harms outweigh the benefits by using and sharing its findings to enhance medical care for patients.
Root of the problem
Antibiotic resistance is accelerated by the misuse and overuse of antibiotics, as well as poor infection prevention and control. Steps can be taken at all levels of society to reduce the impact and limit the spread of resistance.
This resistance is the ability of a microorganism such as bacteria, viruses and some parasites to become resistant to the use of antibiotics, antivirals and anti-malarials from working against it.
Standard treatments have become ineffective; infections can persist and may be passed on to others. A growing list of infections – such as tuberculosis, gonorrhea, and bacteria that cause pneumonia and urinary tract infections – are becoming harder — and sometimes impossible — to treat as antibiotics become less effective.
One of the ways that we can help fight resistance is to use antibiotics more wisely. By doing so, it improves patient outcomes, reduces side effects and antimicrobial resistance and optimizes resource utilization.
The World Antibiotic Awareness week has been held in November since its inception in 2015 with the theme “Antibiotics: Handle with care.”
The global, multi-year campaign has an increasing volume of activities during the week of the campaign and health-care communities such as those in Newfoundland and Labrador are working to educate the public about these very issues.
NOTE - The Telegram will team with the Quality of Care NL and its partners to inform the public on these issues in the coming weeks.