Bayhealth is participating in the Choose Wisely Antibiotic Stewardship Initiative in an effort to decrease antibiotic use in inpatient and outpatient settings.

Each year, more than 269 million antibiotic prescriptions are written in the U.S., which is enough to give four out of five people one prescription. Prescribing antibiotics unnecessarily can lead to antibiotic resistance. Bayhealth is collaborating with Christiana Care, Nemours, Nanticoke and Beebe on the initiative, as part of the eBrightHealth Network Accountability Care Organization.

“The number of antibiotics in the pipeline for development face an increased chance of resistance because of the use of antibiotics today,” said Clinical Pharmacist Janelle Caruano. “We need to determine if a patient really needs an antibiotic in a judicial manner because every time they’re used inappropriately, they can potentially do more harm than good.”

Up to 20 percent of patients develop a side effect, and unlike other medications, each time an antibiotic is prescribed, it loses its benefit for future uses. Physicians may not be prescribing antibiotics, particularly for upper respiratory infections, including bronchitis, sinusitis and pharyngitis, unless it’s absolutely necessary for the patient.

“Antibiotics are needed when a patient is suffering from a bacterial infection whereas a viral illness can’t be treated with antibiotics,” said Caruano.

Those with strep throat, whooping cough and urinary tract infections do need an antibiotic. Those with common cold, runny nose, sore throat, flu and bronchitis or chest colds do not need an antibiotic. Those with sinus or middle ear infections may need an antibiotic.

Sinus infections and middle ear infections may be bacterial or viral infections, which is why they may need antibiotics for treatment. As for bronchitis and chest colds, these are more often viral in nature, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that studies have shown antibiotics will not help healthy children and adults feel better as a result of these infections.

For more, visit cdc.gov/antibiotic-use.