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ACP-ASIM Pressroom

ACP-ASIM Shows How Adults, Physicians and Others Can Help Control Antibiotic Resistance

ACP-ASIM Launches Campaign Against Antibiotic Resistance

PHILADELPHIA—(April 14, 2000) The American College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Medicine (ACP-ASIM) has launched a campaign to actively work to reduce antibiotic resistance, a global and complex problem with the potential to affect millions. At a briefing at the College's Annual Session in Philadelphia, ACP-ASIM also issued a list of "do's and don'ts" showing how adults, parents, physicians and organizations can help reduce the development and spread of antibiotic-resistant diseases.

Representatives from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), participating in the ACP-ASIM briefing, described the new initiative and the need for combined efforts to combat antibiotic resistance.

Herbert S. Waxman, MD, ACP-ASIM senior vice president for education, said, "As physicians, responsibility for at least one piece of the puzzle is clearly ours. We are working with the CDC and the IDSA to address the problem of emerging antibiotic resistance, and we intend to educate our physician members, and through them, patients, about this problem."

The ACP-ASIM initiative includes:

  • Expanding content on antibiotic resistance in all education courses the College offers to its 115,000 members each year
  • Encouraging and assisting the 74 ACP-ASIM regions and chapters to present continuing medical education courses on antibiotic resistance at their annual meetings
  • Developing clinical practice guidelines for treating diseases prone to overtreatment by antibiotics (sinusitis, bad colds, digestive problems), accompanied by patient education pieces in English and Spanish
  • Including research and prevention studies in ACP-ASIM journals, Annals of Internal Medicine and Effective Clinical Practice
  • Monitoring federal regulatory and legislative efforts in surveillance, research, and education
  • Incorporating information about the risks of antibiotic resistance into the ACP-ASIM national Doctors for Adults campaign

Many diseases have re-emerged in forms resistant to all current antibiotics. The causes include inappropriate use of antibiotics in the office, hospital, clinic and nursing home; patients who don't comply with prescribed therapy; overuse of antimicrobials in veterinary practice and in food production; and availability of antibiotics other than by physician prescription, for instance, on the Internet and over-the-counter in some foreign countries.

Things To Do To Reduce The Threat of Antibiotic Resistance

Tips for Patients
  • Don't insist on antibiotics for yourself or your children. Talk with your doctor about the risks and benefits of antibiotics and which antibiotic is appropriate for your problem.
  • Remember, most colds, coughs, sore throats, and runny noses are caused by viruses, not by bacteria. Antibiotics only work against bacteria.
  • Don't use antibiotics remaining from old prescriptions without a doctor's instruction. Never share antibiotics with family or friends.
  • Wash hands thoroughly and often and teach your children to do the same. Prevent illnesses by eliminating resistant bacteria that may spread to others.
  • Make sure your immunizations and your children's immunizations are up-to-date. Immunizations prevent disease. The elderly and those with chronic illnesses, in particular, should seek vaccination against influenza and pneumonia.
  • If you are prescribed antibiotics, finish the prescription, even if you feel better. If you don't, some partly resistant bacteria may remain and multiply. The infection may return a few weeks later, but a different—probably stronger drug—must be used to treat it and you may have contributed to the drug-resistance bacteria problem.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly. Avoid raw eggs and undercooked meats, especially ground meats.
Physicians
  • Don't over-prescribe antibiotics.
  • Choose narrow- over broad-spectrum antibiotics. In other words, use the most specific, targeted or "narrow-spectrum" antibiotics possible. Save the newer, broad-spectrum drugs for infections that resist the older drugs.
  • Wash hands between each patient visit.
  • Educate patients about the risks of antibiotic resistance.
  • Make sure that all patients have the appropriate immunizations.
Hospitals
  • Improve infection control.
  • Use ultraviolet lights; work for better sanitation; insist on more frequent and proper hand washing by staff.
  • Identify quickly and isolate patients with drug-resistant infections.
Health Systems and Health Departments
  • Encourage and facilitate appropriate immunizations for children, adolescents, adults and the elderly.
  • Monitor overall use of antibiotics to spot possible overuse of broad spectrum antibiotics.
Federal Government
  • Require that product labels on antibiotic drugs contain the most current surveillance information on antibiotic resistance as well as prudent use information.
  • Adequately fund national surveillance programs. Develop a system of electronic laboratory reporting by hospitals and laboratories. Establish a communication link to public health and medical communities to provide timely updates on aggregate data and their interpretation.
  • Adequately fund immunization programs.
  • Strengthen the public health infrastructure to facilitate rapid identification of and responses to outbreaks of infectious diseases. Enhance laboratory capabilities and fund training programs for laboratory, epidemiology and infection control personnel.
  • Fund research programs to develop new vaccines and antibiotics to prevent or treat diseases resulting from viral, bacterial, fungal and parasitic pathogens.
  • Fund research programs to study microbial pathogenesis and molecular mechanisms responsible for drug resistance.
  • Sponsor public health messages to the medical community and the public about the scope of the problem and the prudent use of antimicrobial drugs.
  • Monitor antimicrobial drug use in food-producing animals in order to protect human health.
State Governments
  • Adequately fund state surveillance efforts to study antibiotic resistant and other diseases.
  • Include nationally notifiable diseases in the state surveillance program and report collected information to the CDC.
Research
  • Continue to develop/look for new antibiotics or antibiotics that work in new ways.
  • Develop new vaccines against common microbial diseases to prevent infection in the first place.
Pharmaceutical Manufacturers
  • Include messages about antibiotic resistance and information on prudent use of antimicrobial drugs on product labels. Discourage unneeded or inappropriate use of their products.
  • Continue efforts to develop new vaccines or drugs to prevent or treat infectious diseases.
Agriculture
  • Reduce widespread use of antibiotics in animal feeds and food production.
World Health
  • Develop a global strategy to protect people around the world from infectious diseases.
  • Facilitate the development of surveillance in addition to prevention and control measures.
  • Improve sewage systems and water purity in developing nations.

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