FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. --
The 92nd Medical Group recently stood up an Antimicrobial Stewardship Committee to promote proper use of antibiotics.
The team of Airmen advise and educate the medical staff and patients on safe and optimal use of antibiotic therapy in the treatment of infectious diseases.
“The committee's sole purpose is to train, educate and advise both providers and patients about when and how to safely use antibiotics,” said Maj. Burke Wilson, 92nd Medical Support Squadron pharmacy flight commander. “Patients often come to the clinic with a cold and expect to receive antibiotics. In most cases, if the cold is caused by a virus, the antibiotic can actually do more harm than good. Therefore, patient education is a large effort of the committee.”
The team is made up of medical providers, pharmacists, lab officers, infection control nurses and public health staff members.
Antimicrobial Stewardship Committees have had a long presence in military hospitals and it was directed by higher headquarters that all Air Force clinics establish one, said Wilson.
According to the memorandum which announced the mandated program, antibiotic-resistant bacteria are recognized globally as one of the greatest threats to human health worldwide. It has been estimated that there are more than two million infected persons and over 23,000 deaths per annum within the United States alone as a result of this drug resistance.
“This [team] assures that antibiotics are safely and accurately prescribed across the entire Air Force Medical Service and address both inpatient and outpatient facilities,” Wilson added.
An important responsibility of the committee is providing antibiograms to the provider staff.
“Antibiograms are charts that show what types of bacteria are susceptible or resistant to certain antibiotics, which helps providers choose the most appropriate antibiotic for an illness,” Wilson said. “We work with our downtown hospitals to share regional antibiograms to better understand what ‘bugs’ are resistant to what drugs in our area.”
Moving forward, the committee will continue to educate as well as review patient’s health records to ensure staff is following the best practice standards, Wilson said.
“As we are early in the process, our most significant advances have been in educating medical professionals,” Wilson said. “All providers in the clinic have been given training on the program and we have posted signage throughout the medical group that shares how we are committed to safely using antibiotics.”