CDC Announces ‘Get Smart About Antibiotics Week’

Agency offers resource on outpatient antibiotic stewardship

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is promoting “Get Smart About Antibiotics Week” (November 14–20). The annual observance focuses on raising awareness about the risks of using antibiotics inappropriately and about the challenge of antibiotic resistance. The event comes less than two months after the United Nations identified antibiotic resistance as the “greatest and most urgent global risk” and called on world governments to combat antibiotic resistance in medicine, agriculture, and the environment.

Each year in the United States more than 266 million prescriptions for antibiotics are written in doctors’ offices and emergency rooms. Studies show that 30% of these antibiotics are not needed and can actually be harmful, the CDC says.

As the leading government agency tracking antibiotic use in the U.S., the CDC has expanded the Antibiotics Resistance Patient Safety Atlas to include the most complete data currently available on the rate of antibiotic prescribing in each state. Studies show that nearly 154 million visits each year to outpatient facilities result in an antibiotic prescription. Southern states have the highest prescribing and Western states the lowest. This interactive tool also provides data about health care-associated infections caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which are reported to the CDC through the National Healthcare Safety Network.

In addition, the CDC has developed the Core Elements of Outpatient Antibiotic Stewardship, a resource outlining policies and practices that individual clinicians and outpatient facilities are encouraged to adopt to improve antibiotic use and to prevent the following:

  • One in five emergency department visits for adverse drug events are caused by adverse effects from antibiotics.
  • Fifty percent of the antibiotics prescribed for acute respiratory infections are not needed.
  • Fifty percent of patients do not receive the recommended antibiotic for their condition; targeted antibiotics are more effective and help slow antibiotic resistance.

Sources: CDC; November 16, 2016; and Outpatient Antibiotic Stewardship; 2016.