Appropriate Use of Antibiotics

Additional Information

Antibiotics are some of the most commonly prescribed medications for children, and they can be effective in treating bacterial infections. However, many antibiotic prescriptions are unnecessary or not appropriate for the condition they’re supposed to treat – and that is creating a significant problem.

Antibiotic Resistance

Misusing or overusing antibiotics can lead to antibiotic resistance. Over time, bacteria that the antibiotics are supposed to kill develop a resistance to the medication. Instead of the bacteria dying, it continues to grow and become even stronger, so the medication no longer works. In fact, some “superbacteria” have developed resistance to multiple antibiotics, making them very difficult, if not impossible, to treat.

It takes time to develop new antibiotics, so it's vitally important to make sure we use the medications we have as wisely and effectively as possible.

Antibiotic Stewardship at Mercy

Mercy is actively involved in antibiotic stewardship to support the correct and safe use of antibiotics. We’re working to reduce antibiotic resistance and ensure the best care for our patients. Antibiotic use by Mercy Clinic physicians is monitored on an ongoing basis. Physicians are given tools to help them prescribe effectively and educate you about your options.

Tips for Using Antibiotics Correctly

Parents and caregivers can help fight antibiotic resistance by using antibiotics correctly and only when truly needed. Here are a few important facts to know:

  • Antibiotics only treat infections and illnesses caused by bacteria. They will not help viral infections like colds, bronchitis and flu.
  • Viral infections can last a week or more and simply need to run their course. Use over-the-counter medications as advised by your physician for symptom relief. Using antibiotics to treat a virus can contribute to antibiotic resistance, will not help resolve symptoms any faster, and may cause unwanted and unnecessary side effects.
  • If your child is given antibiotics, use them exactly as instructed and finish the entire prescription, even if your child feels better sooner. Stopping the use of antibiotics before the infection is completely gone increases antibiotic resistance.

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