Antibiotic Awareness Week: Smart prescribing tips!

Did you know:

  • One third of adverse drug reactions are caused by antibiotics?
  • 23 000 Americans die each year due to antibiotic resistant organisms, and antibiotic resistance is estimated to kill over 10 million people annually by 2050?
  • Over-use of antibiotics is the main reason for the development of resistance?
  • Up to 50% of antibiotic prescriptions are incorrect or unnecessary?

You can help improve antibiotic use and reduce bacterial resistance with these tips:

Smart Prescribing Tips

Only treating patients who present with symptoms of  urinary tract infections
Many patients, especially the elderly and those with urinary catheters, will grow bacteria in their urine but don’t actually have an infection. Smelly or cloudy urine by themselves are not signs of an infection. While some confused patients may have urinary tract infections, most do not and should be investigated for other causes that explain their changes in mental status. Many tools are available, such as AMMI Canada’s “Symptom-Free Pee: LET IT BE,” which includes a management algorithm and information:

Treating infections for only as long as it is necessary
Many infections can be treated with shorter antibiotic courses. Some examples include community-acquired pneumonia for 5 days, intra-abdominal infections for 4 days after source control, skin and soft tissue infections for 5 days, and urinary tract infections for 3 to 7 days.  A summary can be found at:

Using the narrowest spectrum antibiotic appropriate for the infection
Antibiotic treatments should be prescribed based on local epidemiology and susceptibilities. The antimicrobial stewardship team makes recommendations based on organisms that are likely causing the infection in the patient and the susceptibilities patterns at Vancouver Coastal Health. Patients should be evaluated every day for clinical resolution and culture results. Patients can usually have their antibiotics narrowed down by Day 2 with a majority be placed on oral antibiotics by Day 3.


The Antimicrobial Stewardship Program (ASPIRES) team wants to help support you to make the best antibiotic choices. We provide education, decision support, audit and feedback, practice recommendations, and clinical consultation about smart antibiotic prescribing. Please contact us at or, if you have any questions.

Learn more

As part of Antibiotic Awareness Week, you can take the pledge to use antibiotics wisely, take an antibiotic quiz, access resources for professionals and more.



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