Antibiotic Resistance

antimicrobial stewardshipAntibiotic & Antimicrobial Stewardship Resource Center

Medical professionals are working to slow the spread of antimicrobial resistance, and small hospitals can perform many of the same antibiotic stewardship activities as larger facilities. While critical access hospitals (CAH) face unique stewardship challenges because of their often-limited resources, they can address antimicrobial use patient by patient. We work closely with the Colorado Hospital Association, the CDC, University of Colorado, and community agencies to develop strategies that combat antibiotic resistance.

Download the National Quality Partners Playbook: Antibiotic Stewardship in Acute Care

Antibiotic and Antimicrobial Stewardship News and Resources

Southwest Health System supports CDC’s new Be Antibiotics Aware Educational Effort

Kicking off U.S. Antibiotic Awareness Week November 13-19, 2017 and World Antibiotic Awareness Week, Southwest Health System joins the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in encouraging patients, families and healthcare professionals to Be Antibiotics Aware by learning about safe antibiotic prescribing and use.

Southwest Health System has made antibiotic stewardship a priority through a variety of strategies. Marc J. Meyer, R.Ph, BPharm, CIC, FAPIC has led the initiatives at a state and national level, sharing his knowledge to help other organizations create strong stewardship programs. Meyer has collaborated with the federal Centers for Disease Control, large health systems, the Colorado Hospital Association and foundations that protect patient health, and consumer watchdog agencies to address the growing problem of antibiotic resistance. Marc Meyer has worked closely Arjun Srinivasan, MD, FSHEA CAPT USPHS, Associate Director for Healthcare Associated Infection Prevention Programs, who said he considers Marc to be one of the nation’s leading resources on antibiotic stewardship healthcare setting.

Each year in the United States, at least 2 million people get infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria. At least 23,000 die as a result. Antibiotic resistance, one of the most urgent threats to the public’s health, occurs when bacteria no longer respond to the drugs designed to kill them.

Be Antibiotics Aware provides educational resources to help healthcare professionals improve antibiotic prescribing. Be Antibiotics Aware educates the public on what illnesses antibiotics treat, how to take antibiotics appropriately, and that antibiotics can have minor to very severe side effects. The resources include fact sheets, a brochure, infographics, and social media, video and audio tools.

Antibiotics are critical tools for treating a number of common infections, such as pneumonia, and for life-threatening conditions including sepsis. Antibiotics are only needed for treating certain infections caused by bacteria. Antibiotics also won’t help some common bacterial infections including most cases of bronchitis, many sinus infections, and some ear infections.

Any time antibiotics are used, they can cause side effects and lead to antibiotic resistance. When antibiotics aren’t needed, they won’t help, and the side effects could still hurt you. Common side effects range from things like rashes and yeast infections to severe health problems like Clostridium difficile infection (also called C. difficile or C. diff), which causes diarrhea that can lead to severe colon damage and death.

If you need antibiotics, take them exactly as prescribed. Patients and families can talk to their healthcare professional if they have any questions about their antibiotics, or if they develop side effects, especially diarrhea, since that could be C. difficile, which needs to be treated.

Antibiotics do not work on viruses, such as colds and flu, or runny noses, even if the mucus is thick, yellow or green. Respiratory viruses usually go away in a week or two without treatment. Patients and families can ask their healthcare professional about the best way to feel better while their body fights off the virus.

We can all stay healthy and keep others healthy by cleaning our hands, covering our coughs, staying home when sick, and getting recommended vaccines, for the flu, for example.

Antibiotics save lives. When a patient needs antibiotics, the benefits outweigh the risks of side effects and antibiotic resistance. Improving the way we take antibiotics helps keep us healthy now, helps fight antibiotic resistance, and ensures that life-saving antibiotics will be available for future generations.

To learn more about Be Antibiotics Aware resources and antibiotic prescribing and use, visit

Strategies for Superbugs: Antibiotic Stewardship for Rural Hospitals

Kay Miller Temple, Rural Monitor, March 22, 2017

The Rural Monitor details the contributions made to antibiotic stewardship by Marc Meyer, R. PH, BPharm, CIC, FAPIC.  Author Kay Miller Temple, said that Marc is “what we writers refer to as “the glue” that made the story work: you were the one with the national expertise, state expertise and the boots-on-the-ground in small hospitals.” SHS is proud of Meyer’s contribution to reducing antibiotic resistance in our organization and at a national level.

Meyer, the Southwest Memorial Hospital pharmacist, says AS programs have to be community programs where all antibiotic prescribers in and outside hospital walls work together. Meyer said the main focus of this collaboration is an AS goal that shouldn’t be forgotten: decreasing bacterial resistance.
​“To me, stewardship means community. It means clinics, ambulatory surgical centers, nursing homes, dentists and veterinarians, anyone prescribing antibiotics, cutting down on antibiotic days when appropriate,” he said.

Southwest Memorial Hospital, A Leader in Antibiotic Stewardship: Pharmacist Meyer part of group setting national standard

The Journal, January 11, 2016

“If the health-care profession does not act decisively to deal with antibiotic resistance, we could start to see patients dying from bacterial illnesses that right now are easily treated with antibiotics,” Meyer said. “Essentially we would return to a pre-antibiotic era.”

Antibiotics are not effective against viruses, yet it is commonly prescribed for that. For example, although most upper respiratory infections are viral, many patients demand antibiotics for such conditions. The CDC estimates that as many as 60 percent of antibiotic prescriptions for upper respiratory symptoms do not target the cause of the infection and may contribute to antibiotic resistance and other problems.

Other problems also result from overprescribing antibiotics, which destroy the normal bacteria present in the body. In the United States each year, more than $3 billion is spent treating Clostridium difficile, an opportunistic pathogen that causes severe diarrhea and results in death in approximately 5-10 percent of patients who develop a C. difficile infection. Between 1999 and 2011, the mortality rate of C. difficile has increased tenfold.

A key component of the playbook are the five Ds of effective antibiotic use: diagnosis, drug, dose, duration of therapy, and de-escalation.

“One lesson I learned was that as a small hospital, Southwest Memorial can move more rapidly than larger organizations when it comes to effectively choosing the best medication for each individual patient,” Meyer said.

Antibiotic Stewardship in Action: Southwest Health System’s Approach

Posted on 

From the CDC’s Safe Healthcare Blog:

Meyer discusses steps taken at SHS to reduce antibiotic resistance. “Either alone or through collaborative efforts, all critical access hospitals can apply the CDC Core Elements of Antibiotic Stewardship and implement a program that serves their hospital, clinics, and communities. As we face the threat of a post-antibiotic era, we have no choice.”- Meyer

UCH antibiotic stewardship conference targets the meds that battle the bugs; More than two dozen hospitals join forces to discuss ways to manage prescribing.

Tyler Smith, UCHealth, May 11, 2016

“It’s vital that hospitals, whatever their size, focus attention on how they administer antibiotics, the conference participants agreed. For one, Colorado has seen an increase in the incidence of C. diff, a gut-dwelling, toxin-producing bacterium that causes severe diarrhea and colitis and is especially dangerous to already weakened patients, such as the elderly and the immunocompromised. Overprescribing antibiotics opens the door to C. diff by wiping out “good bacteria” and allowing the rogue intruders to take over.” (Smith, 2016).

Antimicrobial Presentation Materials

Presentation materials can be downloaded here: