NB Health Providers Discourage Unnecessary Use of Antibiotics

New Brunswick health care providers are working together this cold and flu season to reduce the unnecessary use of antibiotics.

In collaboration with the New Brunswick Medical Society, New Brunswick Pharmacists’ Association and Nurse Practitioners of New Brunswick, Choosing Wisely New Brunswick is launching a public awareness campaign aimed at educating patients about the risks of overusing antibiotics. The campaign, which will run during Antibiotic Awareness Week November 13-17, marks the first time these organizations have come together to discourage the unnecessary use of antibiotics.

“With flu season approaching, many New Brunswickers are hoping for a quick fix, but antibiotics won’t work against viral infections like a cold or flu. They won’t speed up recovery and they can even do harm if taken when not needed,” says Dr. Dharm Singh, President of the New Brunswick Medical Society.

“Antibiotics can cause side effects like upset stomach and can be costly. They also kill off your healthy intestinal bacteria, which can allow harmful bacteria to take their place, resulting in serious infections. Use antibiotics only when you really need them,” says Andrew Brillant, President of the New Brunswick Pharmacists Association.

Every year, over 25 million antibiotic prescriptions are written for human consumption in Canada, 30 to 50 per cent of which are estimated to be unnecessary. In New Brunswick, it’s estimated that close to half a million prescriptions for oral antibiotics were filled in community pharmacies in the province.

The overuse of antibiotics is a major contributor to antibiotic resistance and is threatening our ability to treat common infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, gonorrhea, and bacteria that cause pneumonia and urinary tract infections. A recent World Health Organization report revealed the lack of new antibiotics in development and highlighted the risk of running out of antibiotics.

“We all play a part in antimicrobial stewardship and there is an urgent need to address how we are using antibiotics in the province,” says Dr. Singh.

The Choosing Wisely campaign includes posters, social media posts, and a new prescription pad for healthcare providers to review with patients diagnosed with a viral respiratory infection, such as a cold or flu. The prescriptions explain that antibiotics are not needed for these cases and provide recommendations for recovery, including getting plenty of rest and water and seeking symptom treatment at local pharmacies.

 “Patients often expect a prescription for an antibiotic when they go to see their doctor or visit an afterhours clinic or emergency room,” says Dr. Michael Armitage, Chair of the Antimicrobial Stewardship Committee.  “These pads are a helpful tool to encourage healthcare providers and their patients to engage in conversations about the appropriate use of antibiotics.”

Choosing Wisely New Brunswick is also working to support and educate and health care providers about the issue.

“By following the most up-to-date antibiotic treatment guidelines and only prescribing antibiotics when needed, we can improve patient outcomes, reduce antimicrobial resistance, and optimize resource utilization in New Brunswick,” says Michelle Daniels, President of Nurse Practitioners of New Brunswick.

New Brunswick Medical Society Media Contact: Cara Smith, (506) 462-4677, media@nbms.nb.ca

New Brunswick Pharmacists’ Association Media Contact: Paul Blanchard, (506) 459-6008, pblanchard@nbpharma.ca

Antibiotics Wisely Picture

Left to right: Fredericton community pharmacist Krista Millette-Rocan, Nurse practitioner Lisa Chapman, and Chair of the Antimicrobial Stewardship Committee Dr. Michael Armitage.