November 18, 2013 marks the beginning of Get Smart About Antibiotics Week. Spearheaded by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the observance is designed to remind both patients and providers about the sensible and appropriate use of antibiotics.

Antibiotics are prescribed by healthcare professionals to cure bacterial infections. They are not effective to combat viral infections, such as the common cold, the flu, and most sore throats and coughs. In fact, when antibiotics are overused or used incorrectly, antibiotic resistance can occur.

Antibiotic resistance happens when bacteria become less susceptible to the medications used to treat them. This problem has been identified as one of the world’s most pressing public health concerns, resulting in more than two million infections and approximately 23,000 deaths each year. It is important for physicians, pharmacists, policy makers, and patients to work together to avoid the overuse or misuse of antibiotics, which can contribute to antibiotic-resistance bacteria and “super bugs,” like MRSA, CRE, C. difficile, and VRE.

HCA is working diligently to provide guidance and resources to our facilities and clinicians on ways we can help protect our patients and the public from antibiotic-resistant threats. For more information about the safe and judicial use of antibiotics, and to find out what you can do to help assure their correct use, please visit CDC’s Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work pages.