Pharmacy Practice News recently published an article about antibiotic resistance and the dangers of over-prescribing medications. Dr. Cindy O’Bryant talks to us about why it matters.

Why is this a concern?

For cancer patients, much of the chemotherapy we still use causes a patient’s immune system to be lowered putting them at risk for infection. This is especially true for blood cancers. The data shows a direct correlation with chemo-induced immunosuppression and morbidity and mortality. This is usually due to infections because their immune system can’t fight it off. We use antibiotics to help with this and if they don’t work then we don’t have much in our way of treating a patient’s infection. This puts them at risk for some serious outcomes, possibly death.

What should be done?

Over prescribing of antibiotics has to be reeled in. Education and the development of guidelines to help with this process are needed.

Is the healthcare profession part of the problem?

Yes, over prescribing of antibiotics in situations where they are not needed is a big part of the reason we see resistance. This is not a new problem but the increase in resistance and decreased efficacy to more and more antibiotics is becoming more common. As the article states, it is important that all clinicians (general, specialists, pharmacists, nurses, PAs and MDs) are educated on what to use when. There are some guidelines, but we need more and greater guidance. Many hospitals have Antimicrobial Stewardship programs to help limit the over-prescribing and the development of resistance and to contain resistance infections.

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