St. Clair checkup

Laura A. Morris, MT (ASCP), CIC

Everyone is familiar with antibiotics and has probably taken them at some point to treat or prevent a bacterial infection. They are miracle drugs that transformed medicine and have saved countless lives since their discovery in 1928. But their overuse and misuse have contributed to a crisis known as antibiotic resistance.

St. Clair Hospital features an antibiotic stewardship program as part of its comprehensive quality initiatives and a concerted national effort to combat this urgent global public health problem. Antibiotic resistance refers to the capacity of bacteria to withstand the effect of an antibiotic, rendering it useless against bacterial infections. “Resistant bacteria evolve and adapt quickly, in ways that reduce or even eliminate the effectiveness of antibiotics,” explains Laura A. Morris, MT (ASCP), CIC, Senior Infection Preventionist at St. Clair. “Resistance is not a new thing, but now we have superbugs—multidrug-resistant organisms. As a consequence, illnesses that were once easily treatable are far more challenging and in some situations, there are no antibiotic options at all.”

It’s an enormous and expensive problem that prompted the creation last year of a national action plan which recommended that U.S. hospitals monitor the use of antibiotics to curtail their misuse and overuse. St. Clair’s comprehensive, multidisciplinary stewardship program skillfully utilizes the hospital’s human and technological resources in a robust response to the problem. The antibiotic stewardship program monitors and improves the use of antibiotics and monitors patterns of bacterial infection within the hospital.

“The goal of the stewardship program is to use antibiotics only when necessary and then to do so correctly. Infection prevention is the first step,” Morris states. “That includes handwashing and disinfection of surfaces. We use antibiotics judiciously, making certain that the patient receives the right antibiotic, the right dose, at the right times, and for the right duration.”

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