Waging war on antibiotics

THEY may treat wounds and give needles but this week the nurses at Nepean Private Hospital are also acting as teachers as they educate the community about antibiotics.

The hospital will take part in Antibiotic Awareness Week, November 12-18, which aims to inform medical professionals and the public about the dangers of antibiotic resistance.

Antibiotic resistance is caused by inappropriate use of antibiotics and can lead to drug-resistant bacteria, which is harder to treat and may cause serious health problems.

Nepean Private Hospital's infection control co-ordinator and staff educator Helen Scott said that although antibiotics have many legitimate uses, they are often over-prescribed.

For example, she said they are not necessary to treat colds.

"Overuse and misuse of antibiotics have made it harder to treat a lot of bacterial infections," she said.

"It's a problem everywhere.

"Superbugs thrive in hospitals and communities worldwide."

Nurses at the hospital have been promoting awareness of antibiotic resistance by decorating wards, putting up posters, running staff competitions and wearing "Resistance Fighter" T-shirts.

Ms Scott said the efforts had been noticed.

"A lot of patients and visitors are asking questions, which is really good," she said.

"It just goes to show they are becoming more aware of the problem."

Last week's activities were just one aspect of the hospital's infection control scheme which also includes promoting good hand hygiene among patients and staff and monitoring infections, Ms Scott said.

"We are part of this community and very committed to keeping our infection rates low," she said.

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