YOUR Health & Wellness: The Importance of Being Antibiotic Aware

Dec 14, 2021 at 09:38 am by RMGadmin

with Kelly Byrge, M.D. and Williamson Medical Center

Antibiotics can save lives, but they can also cause adverse effects if not taken appropriately. The issue of antibiotic resistance is critical, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is working to drive awareness about the importance of safe antibiotic use. Hospitals such as Williamson Medical Center (WMC) are not only striving to educate their communities about this topic but are also driving standards of excellence to guide appropriate antibiotic use by healthcare providers. 

WMC established an award-winning Antibiotic Stewardship Committee comprised of a multidisciplinary team of specially trained physicians, pharmacists, nurses, laboratory staff, patient safety and quality, and informatics personnel working together to develop processes and procedures to optimize the use of antibiotics. 

Kelly Byrge, M.D. Infectious Disease and physician chair of the committee, and Montgomery Green, PharmD, BCPS, BCIDP and pharmacy committee chair, are sharing information, misconceptions and recommendations to help empower you to navigate your health in the event of illness or infection.  

Not all infections respond to antibiotic therapy. 

Not every type of infection will respond to antibiotic therapy. Antibiotics should only be used for bacterial infections and are not effective for common viral infections such as the common cold, the flu or COVID-19. 

WMC offers state-of-the-art diagnostic testing to help determine the cause of most common infections rapidly. For patients with bacteria in their blood, we can identify the specific cause in roughly twelve to twenty-four hours. These advanced diagnostic tools help our providers make educated decisions on antibiotic selection more efficiently to get patients on the road to recovery.  Also, our antimicrobial stewardship team is alerted real-time of rapid diagnostic results to further ensure appropriate antibiotic protocols.

Keeping a record of prior allergies or intolerances so that your practitioner can make the most educated decision regarding antibiotic selection is also important as is an open conversation with your provider before beginning a course of antibiotic treatment.

Antibiotic resistance is one of the most urgent threats to public health. 

Antibiotics are effective resources when they are needed and can cure life-threatening infections, but the more we utilize them (especially inappropriately) the less effective they can become. 

Bacteria are smart, and each antibiotic exposure allows them the opportunity to create mechanisms toward resistance. Antibiotics kill bacteria that are susceptible to that specific antibiotic, but there are small populations of bacteria that can develop ways to survive being killed by certain antibiotics. Those bacteria pass on their resistance mechanisms not only to their offspring but also to the other bacteria in the environment around them. Bacterial resistance develops faster than we can develop new antibiotics to tackle these new resistance mechanisms, and the pipeline for new antibiotic development is not as robust as needed to compete with the speed that bacteria are developing resistance to our current therapies. 

The more frequently antibiotics are used within a community, higher rates of resistance may develop in bacteria that circulate between members of that community. The judicious use of antibiotics including using them only when they are necessary and choosing the right antibiotic can help minimize this development of antibiotic resistance.  

To help combat this, the WMC Antibiotic Stewardship Committee works on an individual level by reviewing charts of patients on antibiotics during their hospital stay to ensure they are receiving the most appropriate medication at the correct dose and optimal duration. In addition, we work on a larger systems level by analyzing our antibiotic use as a facility and translating this information into decision-support tools to aid our providers in their antibiotic prescribing habits.  

Williamson Medical Center is dedicated to enhancing antibiotic use protocols. WMC was recently recognized as an Antimicrobial Stewardship Center of Excellence by the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA). This designation acknowledges the health system’s efforts to optimize the use of antibiotics to maximize patient benefits and minimize both the rise of antibiotic resistance as well as adverse effects to patients from unnecessary antibiotic therapy. 

We are passionate about this work because the impact is not just confined within our hospital walls. Smarter antibiotic prescribing on an individual level also plays a large role in reducing the incidence of antibiotic resistance within the entire community. The Antimicrobial Stewardship Center of Excellence designation should make WMC patients and their family members confident they will receive only the best when it comes to antibiotic prescribing while under our care. To learn more, visit

Kelly Byrge, M.D.
Williamson Medical Center
Dr. Kelly Byrge is an Infectious Disease Doctor, and physician chair of the WMC Antibiotic Stewardship Committee and Montgomery Green,
PharmD, BCPS, BCIDP and WMC Antibiotic Stewardship Committee pharmacy chair.