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Delta hospital promotes judicious use of antibiotics

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Delta County Memorial Hospital (DCMH) signed up in 2015 to participate in the Colorado Hospital Association's "Antimicrobial Stewardship Collaborative," a two-year effort focused on increasing the appropriate treatment for urinary tract infections and skin and soft tissue infections by correctly prescribing antibiotics.

While antibiotics are an essential tool for fighting bacterial infections, when they are used indiscriminately or for too long, they can destroy all good bacteria in a patient's intestines, leaving the patient at risk for developing Clostridium difficile (C. diffficile). Antibiotic overuse has led to the evolution of more antibiotic-resistant bacteria, or "superbugs," that are surfacing in health care facilities around the world.

Elaine Sakala, RN, infection control, employee health and risk manager for DCMH, is leading the participation in this program. She is focused on all departments in the hospital and admitted patients. "We have learned a lot from this program and are already starting to see improvements in the amount of antibiotics prescribed and the duration for which they are prescribed," said Sakala. "We know that this is a difficult change to make, but we are committed to this process because we know it will reduce the exposure to antibiotics for our patients."

DCMH is one of 26 hospitals from around Colorado participating in the CHA Antibiotic Stewardship Collaborative and is committed to making appropriate changes to these clinical practices to improve patient safety. Clinical staff from DCMH have participated in numerous webinars, site visits and meetings to learn from national experts and colleagues about this issue.

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