Opinion Former Article

MRSA Action UK asks healthcare professionals and the public to be Antibiotic Guardians

Members of MRSA Action UK are making their pledge to become Antibiotic Guardians encouraging everyone to make better use of antibiotics.

The aim of this year’s European Antibiotic Awareness Day on 18th November is that by 30th November at least 10,000 healthcare professionals and members of the public will have committed to at least one pledge for prudent use of antimicrobials.

Antibiotics treat infections by killing bacteria, but now the bacteria are fighting back. Medicines are becoming less effective which means more deaths and more complications for people receiving treatment in hospital. Without effective antibiotics many routine treatments will become increasingly dangerous. Setting broken bones, organ transplants, cancer treatments all rely on antibiotics that work.

Antibiotics are precious. The message we are giving to healthcare professionals is to take care when prescribing them.  Antibiotics have an important and often lifesaving role in healthcare, but prescribing them unnecessarily contributes to the problem of bacteria developing resistance to the antibiotics that they would have once been susceptible to.

We also want to remind the public that they should be aware that antibiotics are only effective against bacterial infections and they do not work against virus infections such as those causing colds or most coughs. GPs should only prescribe antibiotics when you need them.  When antibiotics are prescribed, it is important that patients always take them as directed and complete the course to get rid of the bacteria completely and so they can stay effective in the future.

25,000 people die each year across Europe from infections resistant to antibiotics. Research has shown that only 10% of sore throats and 20% of acute sinusitis benefit from antibiotic treatment but the prescription rates are much higher than this.

Everyone can help to preserve antibiotics for the future by taking simple actions.  Don’t ask for them, treat cold and flu symptoms with pharmacist advice and over the counter medicines. Take antibiotics exactly as prescribed, never save them for later and never share them with others.

We have all been personally affected by the scourge of antibiotic resistance, and know what happens when the drugs don’t work. Anyone facing surgery is vulnerable, as there are more and more antibiotic resistant organisms developing in the healthcare environment. Members of the charity also give their time to work with research into antibiotic resistance and helping with writing guidelines and patient information with microbiologists and infection prevention practitioners. It’s a way of making sure our relatives have not passed away in vain, sharing our experiences to help get the message out there is important.

Anyone can pledge to be an Antibiotic Guardian by visiting www.antibioticguardin.com


Derek Butler
Chair
MRSA Action UK
http://mrsaactionuk.net
Telephone: 07762 741114
Derek.butler@mrsaactionuk.net

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