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November 14, 2017

Antibiotics can be unnecessary and potentially harmful, IBC says

When it comes to taking antibiotics, take heed. You could be overdoing it, Independence Blue Cross advised this week.

Antibiotic prescriptions have been cut by nearly 10 percent between 2010 and 2016, and Independence Blue Cross members have cut use of broad-spectrum antibiotics by 14 percent in the last six years, the insurance provider said in a release.

More than half of antibiotics are unnecessary or wrongly prescribed, the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention recently found. The release also points out that most common infections are viral and do not require antibiotics at all.

Per IBC:

According to the World Health Organization, antibiotic resistance — when bacteria no longer respond to the antibiotics designed to kill them — is one of the biggest threats to global health and it is on the rise. It can lead to longer hospital stays, higher medical costs, and increased rates of mortality. Taking antibiotics when you don’t need them speeds up resistance and is increasing the frequency of antibiotic-resistant infections worldwide.

Dr. Richard Snyder, chief medical officer at Independence Blue Cross, has joined chief medical officers around the world in signing a pledge urging companies to support the appropriate use of antibiotics. Independence has actively promoted appropriate antibiotic use to its employer customers and members, as well as physicians.

The insurance provider also laid out a number of advisories and guidelines to mark World Antibiotic Awareness Week this week:

In addition to over-prescribing antibiotics, resistance is also caused by:

Not finishing a full course of antibiotics

Sharing or using leftover antibiotics

Poor hygiene and sanitation

Use of antimicrobial hand soap

Help fight antibiotics resistance by:

Only using antibiotics prescribed by your health care provider in line with current medical guidelines

Not requesting antibiotics when your health care provider advises that it is not needed

Prevent infection by:

Washing hands with plain soap and water

Preparing food hygienically

Avoiding close contact with sick people

Keeping vaccinations up to date

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