Falling medication

In this session, Josh Ohrtman, PharmD, will discuss antibiotic stewardship and the CDC’s core elements and explain why appropriate use of antibiotics is important. Ohrtman will also outline barriers to antibiotic stewardship and provide resources and opportunities for reducing healthcare-associated infections (HAIs).

November 15, 2022 | 3:00 – 4:00 p.m. CT

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Speaker: Josh Ohrtman, PharmD | Medicine Shoppe & The South Dakota Foundation for Medical Care

We recently had the opportunity to present Dr. Ohrtman with some questions related to this topic. His responses are below.

Josh Ohrtman Q. Why is the topic of antibiotic stewardship important to you?
A. According to the CDC nearly one out of every three outpatient antibiotic prescriptions is unnecessary. Additionally, it is estimated that up to 50% of all outpatient antibiotic prescriptions are used inappropriately or unnecessarily. Unfortunately, like many, I have had family members with negative and lasting health outcomes from taking an unnecessary antibiotic.

Unlike unnecessary use of other medications, such as cholesterol or blood pressure medications, unnecessary antibiotic use puts patients AND the public at risk. Overuse of antibiotics is a primary driver for antibiotic resistant organisms. Every year, nearly 3 million individuals are infected with an antibiotic resistant organism and unfortunately, antibiotic resistant organisms kill nearly four people every hour.

Q. What is one of the largest barriers?
A. For many years, the excitement of finally having the opportunity to treat previously untreatable life-threatening infections led to widespread use of antibiotics. Only recently have we begun to observe the ramifications of overuse of these agents. Side effects of antibiotics can range from mild (diarrhea, rash, nausea, yeast infections) to severe (c. diff infection, life threatening allergic reactions, and antibiotic-resistant infections).

Like many improvements that develop in our health care system, education and awareness about updated treatment strategies are essential. Health care providers, patients and family members must understand the decision to use antibiotic agents needs to be thoughtfully considered before initiation of therapy.

Q. From a pharmacists’ perspective, what do patients and family members need to know on this topic. Why does this matter?
A. An antibiotic is not always the best option of treatment for you or your family member. While antibiotics can be a useful tool, patients and family members must understand there are undoubtedly risks associated with unnecessary antibiotic use. Rather than a patient assuming an antibiotic is necessary, and possibly placing pressure on a clinician to prescribe an antibiotic, it is important to allow the physician to use their clinical judgement when weighing the risks and benefits.

It is also important for patients and family members to understand that stomach upset and nausea after taking penicillin is not necessarily an allergy. Antibiotics, including penicillin, have the potential to disrupt the gastrointestinal system and cause stomach upset, diarrhea and/or nausea. When a patient tells their healthcare provider they have an allergy to penicillin, the alternative antibiotic agents may have significantly more adverse events associated with use.

Finally, clinical evidence shows that antibiotics can potentially kill healthy organisms, particularly in the gastrointestinal tract, and place the patient at risk for more serious infections. I see many patients develop severe infections, sometimes before they even finish their initially prescribed course of antibiotics.

Q. Recommended Resources?
A. The CDC has done an amazing job of providing resources for patients as well as health care providers (CDC Web site). One of the resources provides physicians with suggestions on how to discuss symptom management, watchful waiting, and delayed prescribing with patients and family members when antibiotic use is not warranted.

Finally, if a healthcare facility would like updated treatment guidelines, education, or assistance with using antibiotics appropriately in their setting, they can reach out to me or anyone of our great South Dakota Foundation for Medical Care Healthcare Associated Infection/Antibiotic Resistance team members.

U.S. Antibiotic Awareness Week is November 18-24, 2022

Be Antibiotics Aware LogoAntibiotic Awareness Week is an annual observance that raises awareness of the threat of antibiotic resistance and the importance of appropriate antibiotic use. Access the Partner Toolkit which provides up-to-date information to help improve human antibiotic prescribing and use in the United States.

Dr. Josh Ohrtman is a clinical services pharmacist and pharmacy consultant for The Medicine Shoppe in Rapid City. He serves as Network Director for the South Dakota Community Pharmacy Enhanced Services Network (CPESN SD) and has united community pharmacies across SD to increase quality, offer enhanced services that benefit patients, and improve healthcare in SD. Josh has formed partnerships with South Dakota Department of Health, South Dakota Foundation for Medical Care, and South Dakota State University College of Pharmacy. He is also involved in several projects to reduce cardiovascular disease risk in South Dakota and serves as an Antibiotic Stewardship Lead for the South Dakota Foundation of Medical Care.