Hospital Spotlight: Henry Ford Health System Commits to Fighting Antibiotic Resistance
Posted on February 07, 2019
Antibiotics have saved countless lives and treated bacterial and fungal infections, from minor to severe, and parasites. However, people can develop antibiotic resistance due to overuse or misuse.
Overuse is attributed to prescribing antibiotics for everything from common colds to viral infections. In addition, antibiotic treatment is often longer than necessary, which can result in adverse side effects. Antibiotic resistance means germs become resistant to treatment, which can make infections stronger and more difficult to treat.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) claims that over 50 percent of prescribed antibiotics are unnecessary, and more than 23,000 Americans die each year from various types of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Henry Ford Health System recently joined a worldwide campaign to fight against the ongoing threat of antibiotic resistance. As part of the yearlong effort, Henry Ford committed to three key areas to tackle the overall CDC objectives: reducing unnecessary and/or unsafe antibiotic use, infection control stewardship and reducing antibiotics in the environment.
The health system created an action plan that built on years of work done to fight antibiotic resistance across all its patient care areas in southeast Michigan.
Initially, Henry Ford launched an antimicrobial stewardship program to reduce healthcare costs and antibiotic use and improve patient safety. In 2017, it created a “Shorter is Better” campaign to encourage shorter duration of antibiotic treatment – three to seven days versus traditional courses of up to 14 days – for common bacterial infections. Shorter course therapy can reduce antibiotic resistance and avoid potential side effects. Overall, it was rolled out with institutional guidelines to set standards and illustrate how short course therapy has proved to be as successful as longer course therapy.
The initiative has been successful because of a broad range of interventions, including in-person education, inclusion of short course recommendations in systemwide safety huddle documents and feedback to prescribers.
Henry Ford also launched an initiative to urge patients who visit urgent care clinics to consider antibiotic alternatives. Each patient receives a wellness bag from prescribers that includes a list of symptoms with corresponding home remedies and over-the-counter medications to provide relief; a list of Henry Ford pharmacies; a variety of products, including hand sanitizers, Kleenex and throat lozenges; and vouchers for over-the-counter products.
According to research, one in 20 people used a nonprescription or previous prescription of antibiotics in the past 12 months – which can lead to bad reactions or side effects, as well as the antibiotic simply not being effective. Henry Ford is looking to partner with organizations and align with National Prescription Drug Take-Back Days to encourage people to dispose of leftover antibiotics at drug take-back stations and/or kiosks.
Overall, Henry Ford’s commitment to the CDC’s Antimicrobial Resistance Challenge will help decrease the use of antibiotics for people in southeast Michigan, as well as improve their health and well-being.
This article was featured in the MHA Keystone Center Newsletter. To subscribe, please contact Ashley Sandborn, MHA Keystone Center communications specialist.
Posted in: Patient Safety & Quality