Tips for Using Antibiotics Wisely

We will conclude this week with a helpful list of tips from our own ID stewardship experts. Thanks to Dr. Lee, Dr. Cutrell and Dr. Bhavan!

Antibiotics are a precious but finite resource in medicine.  The best way to preserve them for future patients is optimizing antibiotic utilization now.

Ways to use antibiotics wisely include:

  • Avoid antibiotics when not needed
  • Use the narrowest agent possible
  • Ensure the right dose and right route of administration
  • Use the shortest duration of therapy needed
  • Promote antibiotic best practices including an “antibiotic timeout”

Key questions to ask when starting or reassessing antibiotics:

  1. Does my patient really have an infection?
    • Don’t forget to consider non-infectious causes of fever or elevated WBC.
  1. Can I target my therapy for a particular pathogen?
    • Use narrow spectrum agents to target positive culture results.
    • If no culture data available, the lack of patient risk factors for drug-resistant pathogens (like MRSA or Pseudomonas) may allow safe de-escalation to narrower agents.
  1. Are there patient factors that impact antibiotic dosing?
    • Changes in renal or hepatic function
    • Drug-drug interactions, esp. with oral abx that may impair absorption
    • Don’t hesitate to contact your pharmacist or stewardship team for help!
  1. How long do I need to treat this infection?

As always, the Antimicrobial Stewardship Programs at each hospital are available to help with these questions, so please contact us at any time.

Kavita Bhavan- Parkland

Brad Cutrell- VA

Francesca Lee- UTSW