Two doctors discussing patient chart in ICU

Antibiotics fight bacterial infections, but leftover bacteria can resist the effects and multiply, causing the antibiotic to be less effective in the future. The bacteria can then defeat the drugs designed to kill them and no longer respond to medicine from overuse or over-prescription of antibiotics, leaving individuals at a higher risk for serious infection and death. Resistance leads to 2.8 million antimicrobial-resistant infections and 35,000 deaths yearly, according to the CDC.

Richelle Guerrero-Wooley, MD, chair of the Antibiotic Stewardship Committee at Loma Linda University Health, passionately works to limit the resistance among patients. Twice a week, the committee reviews charts for patients at the adult ICU receiving anti-infectives. She evaluates patients who are on certain drugs for three days or longer and decides if it’s appropriate that the antimicrobials are warranted for each patient or need to be de-escalated.

“Antibiotic stewardship is not about stopping all antibiotics. It’s the hospital's proactive plan in ensuring that the patient is on appropriate medication to limit future resistance,” Guerrero-Wooley says.

William Kennedy, MD, chair of LLU Children’s Hospital Antimicrobial Stewardship Program Committee, promotes judicious use of antimicrobial agents in pediatric patients as well.  The Children’s Hospital Antimicrobial Stewardship Team reviews pediatric patients’ charts five times a week and promotes optimal antibiotic selection to reduce unintended consequences of antimicrobial therapy.

The committee stayed busy early in the COVID-19 pandemic. Constant information and misinformation affected protocols and recommendations implemented by Guerrero-Wooley and her team. This period generated important discussion throughout the hospital and highlighted the importance of the committee’s guidelines.

“Patients, physicians, and students enjoy the collegial conversation created because it emphasizes the meticulous decisions made when being treated at Loma Linda University Health,” Guerrero-Wooley says.

It is World Antibiotic Awareness Week. Talk to your primary care provider about your concerns about the overuse of antibiotics.