Anti-Antibiotics Week

By Christine Moffa, MS, RN, clinical editor at AJN

Not only is antibiotic resistance dangerous and expensive, it’s on the rise. Unfortunately, cold and flu season can make people so uncomfortable they’ll do anything to feel better, including insisting that their health care provider write a prescription for a medication that can’t help them. In an effort to change this, the CDC and FDA have teamed up for the 3rd annual Get Smart about Antibiotics Week (November 15–21). You can check out their websites for various patient education materials and other resources to promote awareness at your facility.

For more information on antibiotic resistance and the Get Smart campaign, look at these articles published in AJN:

“Acute Respiratory Infections and Antimicrobial Resistance,” by Ann Marie Hart, PhD, RN, FNP, Alison Patti, MPH, CHES, Brendan Noggle, MPH, Erica Haller-Stevenson, MPH, CHES,and Lisa B. Hines, MPH, CHES

“Is Your Patient Taking the Right Antimicrobial?” by Mary C. Vrtis, PhD, RN

Sometimes it’s hard to not give in to the pressure when a patient expects a prescription at the end of a visit. What do you tell your patients or friends and family when they insist they need an antibiotic for cold or flu symptoms?

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Senior editor/social media strategy, American Journal of Nursing, and editor of AJN Off the Charts.


  1. qiong luo April 14, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    Nosocomial infection is a constant topic in healthcare facilities. Infection control faces challenge since antibiotic resistance emerges and intensifies. In the 90s, multi-drug resistant tuberculosis happened, and then methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) appeared in the earlier 20th century. Following that, carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) occurs. New strains of bacteria develop and over time these bacteria have become resistant to more and more antibiotics. It is an ongoing process. When patients come in my facility, they are given broad spectrum antibiotics before they are diagnosed of infections with specific infection agents from their blood culture reports after 48 hours. Studies have shown, repeatedly, that up to 50% of antibiotic prescriptions are either unnecessary or inappropriate (Srinivasan & Laxminarayan, 2011, “Antibiotic resistant bacteria in hospitals: A time for action”, para.2). Not only does this overuse reduce their effectiveness, but also it threatens the utility of new antibiotics. Therefore, I support the Get Smart about Antibiotic Campaign to engage everyone in their efforts. For individuals, be aware of that a viral flu infection does not need an antibiotic. If patients want antibiotic from doctors’ visits, I would suggest giving them correct education. This might work to calm their nerves. For healthcare facilities, promoting appropriate antibiotic use and focusing on infection control and prevention can reduce the prevalence of resistant infections that jump from healthcare facilities into the community when patients are discharged home. For pharmaceutical companies, we can encourage them to stop overselling their drugs and use the latest high-technology to develop new drugs, which have long term effectiveness. Ultimately, I hope that we will achieve the objective to reduce antibiotic resistance in the future.

    Srinivasan, A., & Laxminarayan, R., (2011). Antibiotic resistant bacteria in hospitals: A time for action. Retrieved from

  2. Yamile November 22, 2010 at 9:50 am

    I think it’s about time something was done to curb the unnecessary use of antibiotics and prevent further antibiotic resistance. I know people who would make their doctor write a prescription for antibiotic for a cold because they don’t understand that it won’t help them. Also, my family and friends tend to ask people they know if they have antibiotics left over when they think they need them. I try to make them avoid this by telling them they should take all their antibiotics when prescribed and not to give them to people because these people may not need antibiotics in the first place.
    I see the consequences of antibiotic resistance in my unit all the time. I’ve given vancomycin countless times, but penicillin can rarely be used anymore.

  3. Karen November 20, 2010 at 1:01 pm

    I have never felt so unwell. Took antibiotics for tooth infection. Never again

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