Antibiotic Stewardship

Antibiotic Stewardship in Vermont

The Vermont Department of Health leads the state-wide MDRO Collaborative to prevent the transmission of multidrug-resistant organisms in Vermont. Healthcare facilities around the state are working to improve antibiotic stewardship as part of the MDRO Collaborative.

In 2014 the Health Department and the Vermont Medical Society Education & Research Foundation — with funding from the CDC and the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials — conducted a research project to identify ways to improve antibiotic stewardship in Vermont hospital emergency departments.

Antibiotics work on bacterial infections

Antibiotics are drugs that kill bacteria. Bacteria can cause illnesses like urinary tract infections and pink eye. Antibiotics should only be used to fight bacterial infections. When you use antibiotics the right way, you do the best for your health, your family's health, and the health of those around you.

If your health care provider prescribes an antibiotic for a bacterial infection:

  • Do not skip doses.
  • Do not stop taking the antibiotics early unless your health care provider tells you to.
  • Do not save any of the antibiotics for the next time you or a family member gets sick.

The overuse of antibiotics can result in bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics. This makes it more difficult to treat infections such as bacterial bronchitis, MRSA, sepsis, and pneumonia.

Antibiotic resistance infographic

Antibiotics do not work on viral infections

Antibiotics do not fight viral infections like the common cold and the flu. Taking antibiotics when they are not needed, like during a viral illness, can put a person at a higher risk for antibiotic-resistant infections in the future. This is true for both children and adults.

Taking antibiotics for viral infections:

  • Will not cure the infection.
  • Will not keep other people from getting sick.
  • Will not help you or your child feel better.
  • May cause unnecessary and harmful side effects.
  • May contribute to antibiotic resistance, which is when bacteria are able to resist the effects of an antibiotic and continue to cause harm.

Rest, fluids, and over-the-counter products may be your or your child's best treatment option against viral infections.

To feel better when you or your child has a viral infection:

  • Ask your health care provider about over-the-counter treatment options that may help reduce symptoms.
  • Drink more fluids.
  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Use a clean cool-mist vaporizer or saline nasal spray to relieve congestion. If you use a cool-mist vaporizer, consider using bottled water that is distilled or purified. Emptying and drying the tank when not in use will help to keep the vaporizer clean.
  • Soothe your throat with crushed ice, sore throat spray, or lozenges. (Do not give lozenges to young children.)
  • If you are diagnosed with the flu, there are prescription antiviral drugs that can be used to treat flu illness.
  • Do not demand antibiotics when your health care provider says they are not needed.
  • Do not take an antibiotic for a viral infection.
  • Do not take antibiotics prescribed for someone else. The antibiotic may not be right for your illness. Taking the wrong medicine may delay correct treatment and allow bacteria to grow.

More information on symptom relief from viral infections

Six smart facts about antibiotic use

Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a program called Get Smart to help make sure antibiotics are prescribed only when they are needed. The Get Smart program has information for patients and parents and for health care providers.

Some patient education materials are available free of charge from the Health Department.