Antimicrobial agents have spared millions of patients from illness and death caused by infection. But due to the wide use of these medications, some of the organisms they target have adapted to them, making them less effective and putting people in danger.
Fortunately, dentists can help. The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Organization for Safety, Asepsis, and Prevention (OSAP) have developed a set of best practices for dentists who prescribe antibiotics to prevent their overuse.
“These best practices will be a resource for dentists to apply when prescribing antibiotics to ensure patients are prescribed antibiotics only when the benefits outweigh the risks,” said Lauri Hicks, DO, director of the office of antibiotic stewardship in the division of healthcare quality promotion, National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases at the CDC.
“Data show that primary care dentists, not including dental specialists or surgeons, write approximately 10% of all antibiotic prescriptions filled in outpatient pharmacies each year,” said Hicks. “That equates to nearly 26 million prescriptions.”
The CDC also reports that 30% of all outpatient antibiotic prescriptions are unnecessary and urges healthcare providers in all specialties to improve their prescription usage. Each year, the CDC says, 2 million people in the United States become infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics, with 23,000 deaths as a result.
The new guidelines cover pretreatment, prescriptions, and patient and staff education.
“Pretreatment steps involve establishing a correct diagnosis, reviewing the patient’s pertinent medical history, and considering whether therapeutic management of a local bacterial infection with a procedure may be more appropriate than an antibiotic,” said Hicks. “Dentists should make their prescribing decisions based on evidence-based medicine.”
Next, the CDC says that dentists should instruct their patients to take antibiotics exactly as prescribed and only if prescribed for them. Plus, patients should be told that they should not save unused antibiotics for future use. Dentists and staff, meanwhile, should keep informed about optimal antibiotic prescription practices through continuing education.
For example, OSAP has opened its registration for its Dental Infection Control Book Camp, scheduled for January 9 to January 11, 2017, at the Hyatt Regency in Atlanta, Ga. Designed for dental professionals who have infection control responsibilities, the program will cover core infection prevention and safety fundamentals led by national and international experts.
Meanwhile, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) will be developing guidelines for the use of antimicrobials for the European Union as well. The ECDC will open a public consultation on September 5, inviting comments from the scientific community and other stakeholders.
The CDC’s and OSAP’s best practices, “Considerations for Responsible Antibiotic Use in Dentistry,” were published by the Journal of the American Dental Association.
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