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'Don't get antibiotics if you don't need them'

Harrington forum fights institutional infections

A snapshot from Harrington’s winning video in a contest last year in which several hospital staff people dressed up as microbes to discuss the importance of preventing hospital-acquired (or allopathic) infections. The money won from the contest funded a seminar held this week at the hospital. (click for larger version)
September 14, 2011
SOUTHBRIDGE — More than just a strain on one's spelling, Clostridium difficile can kill you.

The microbe, usually known as C. diff, is one of those "superbugs" hospitals are working to limit/eliminate as a threat. But this one is something the average person can actually have some influence over, because it is directly caused by overuse of antibiotics.

"Just don't get antibiotics if you don't need them," said Harrington Emergency Room Director Dr. Michael Gaudet. "People are used to going to the doctor and getting a prescription … but most infections get better without it. People put way too much faith in antibiotics for self-limited illnesses."

He noted he has frequently seen people asking for antibiotics for such common, generally minor conditions as sinusitis, colds, mild fevers and bronchitis, but the drugs do nothing to help them. What they should be doing is simply resting — take time off from work or school. Instead, by taking antibiotics, they kill off the body's natural "good" microbes, leaving the door open for any C. diff (and sometimes other infections) the person might be carrying harmlessly to spread rapidly.

For more on this story, please see tomorrow's Southbridge Evening News.

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