Preventing Antibiotic Resistance Preventing Antibiotic Resistance
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Today, infections with antibiotic-resistant bacteria have become increasingly common in healthcare and community settings. Antibiotic development is dwindling. Learn what patients and healthcare providers can do to prevent antibiotic resistance.

Antibiotic resistance occurs when germs change in a way that reduces or eliminates the effectiveness of the drugs available to treat them. Many bacteria have now become resistant to more than one type or class of antibiotic and widespread overuse and inappropriate use of antibiotics is fueling resistance that compromises the effectiveness of important patient treatments. Overuse of antibiotics also increases the problems of drug side effects, allergic reactions, diarrheal infections caused by Clostridium difficile, or even death.

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So, what can we do to prevent antibiotic resistance? We all have a role to play. Patients, healthcare providers, hospital administrators, and policy makers must work together to employ effective strategies for improving antibiotic use – ultimately improving medical care and saving lives.

Here’s how you can help:

How Patients Can Protect Themselves from a Drug-Resistant Infection

Take antibiotics exactly as the doctor prescribes. Do not skip doses. Complete the prescribed course of treatment, even if you start feeling better. Only take antibiotics prescribed for you; do not share or use leftover antibiotics. Antibiotics treat specific types of infections. Taking the wrong medicine may delay correct treatment and allow bacteria to multiply. Do not save antibiotics for the next illness. Discard any leftover medication once the prescribed course of treatment is completed. Prevent infections by practicing good hand hygiene and getting recommended vaccines. Do not ask for antibiotics when your doctor thinks you do not need them. Remember antibiotics have side effects. When your doctor says you don’t need an antibiotic, taking one may do more harm than good.

How Healthcare Providers Can

Prescribe correctly

Do not treat viral infections with antibiotics, even when patients ask for them. Prescribe the right antibiotic at the right dose for the right duration; be familiar with resistance trends in your region. Avoid unnecessary overlaps in antibiotics. It is not usually necessary to give two antibiotics to treat the same bacteria.

Collaborate with each other and with patients

Talk to your patients about appropriate use of antibiotics. Include microbiology cultures when placing antibiotic orders. Work with pharmacists to counsel patients on appropriate antibiotic use, antibiotic resistance, and adverse effects. Utilize patient and provider resources offered by CDC and other professional organizations.

Stop and assess

Take an "antibiotic timeout" when a patient’s culture results come back in 24 to 48 hours. Stop and assess the use of antibiotics, using them only when indicated to avoid promoting the development of resistance among bacteria and unnecessary antibiotic exposure.


Embrace antibiotic stewardship

Improve antibiotic use in all facilities—regardless of size—through stewardship interventions and programs, which will improve individual patient outcomes, reduce the overall burden of antibiotic resistance, and save healthcare dollars.