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3 Tips for Prescribing Antibiotics, CDC Offers

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, November 18, 2010

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has launched a version of its "Get Smart About Antibiotics" campaign in an effort to get hospital-based physicians to be more diligent about not prescribing their inpatients with unnecessary antibiotics to avoid resistant strains.

"This is an educational message we're presenting for physicians to help them understand, what are the real indications to treat a patient who has a sore throat with antibiotics. What are the signs and symptoms of an infection with a bacteria versus a virus," says Arjun Srinivasan, MD, the CDC's Associate Director for Healthcare Associated Infection Prevention Programs, Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion.

"There's been a perception that some clinicians might not be as familiar with the indications."

Fliers and other material distributed to hospital physicians carry the message: "Healthcare providers—the power to prevent antibiotic resistance is in your hands."  It adds that the increase in bacteria that are resistant to common antibiotics results in increased risk of hospitalization, length of stay, hospital costs, transfer to the intensive care unit and increased mortality.

"Hospital administrators and payers can help," reads another part of the campaign. "We must enhance efforts to get healthcare administrators to recognize the importance of antibiotic stewardship and provide resources to do it," and "make appropriate antibiotic use a quality improvement and patient safety priority."

The previous three-year Get Smart campaign had targeted patients, to educate them not to demand antibiotics from their physicians unless they have a bacterial infection, and had targeted community physicians. This is the first time the campaign has approached acute care hospital providers.

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