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How Can Pharmacists Advocate for Judicious Antibiotic Use in Patients?


James S. Lewis, PharmD, FIDSA, Co-Director of Antibiotic Stewardship, Oregon Health and Science University, explains how pharmacists can advocate for judicious antibiotic use in patients through educating the patients themselves, as well as providers.

Interview Transcript (modified slightly for readability):

“Pharmacists are in a unique position as far as advocating for effective antibiotic use because on the outpatient side, they are the people that hand out all the prescriptions from the pharmacy. And so, I think that having education pieces available for patients there and having discussions with patients about appropriate use of antibiotics is absolutely critical. There are still far too many members of the public who feel that an antibiotic is what you need for a cold. That type of thinking just has to change.

On the inpatient side, pharmacists are front-line providers on a lot of the antibiotic stewardship teams. They are the main effector arms on a lot of antibiotic stewardship teams that are springing up in hospitals across the country because of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and Joint Commission requirements. The thing that the pharmacists bring to the table is drug expertise and the ability to spend a lot of time becoming familiar with these compounds, as well as being able to interact with and educate providers on optimal ways to use them.

[Pharmacists can] also share the latest and greatest evidence to support [the use] of these antibiotics. One of the things that is happening in the field right now is that we are seeing more and more studies pop up with shorter durations of therapy as compared with long durations of therapy. [Pharmacists could then] educate providers on data that perhaps they have not seen, yet.

We all fall into habits, and providers certainly fall into habit habits of writing an antibiotic prescription for 14 days. Well, maybe there was a study published 2 weeks ago that says you only need 7 days.

I think things like [educating patients and providers] are very good roles for pharmacists and really where you are seeing a lot of involvement from pharmacists in trying to minimize antibiotic resistance.”
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