How to Prevent Antibiotic Resistance  

Wash your handsAntibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria develop defenses against the antibiotics designed to kill them. This renders the drugs useless against the new resistant strains, allowing resistance to grow and spread to other germs, creating drug-resistant infections that can be difficult to treat.

Prevention is the best way to protect against antibiotic resistance. There are many steps that individuals can take to protect themselves and their families:

  • Wash Your Hands

Our bodies are constantly exposed to millions of germs. Regular hand washing can help fight germs and prevent illness.

  • Know the Symptoms

Learn how to recognize early symptoms of an infection. If you think you have an infection, or if your infection is not getting better or is getting worse, talk to a healthcare professional.

  •  Ask Questions

Talk to your healthcare professional about the antibiotics they prescribe and learn about possible side effects. Ask about what they are doing to keep their facilities safe and prevent further infections.

  • Learn the Right Ways to Use Antibiotics

Not all infections need antibiotics. Work with your healthcare professional to make sure you are getting the right antibiotic, at the right dosage, for the right amount of time. Never demand antibiotics if your healthcare professional says they are unnecessary.

  • Never Share or Use Leftover Antibiotics

Only take antibiotics when appropriately prescribed and administered by your healthcare provider.

  • Prepare Food Safely

Food such as meat, fruits, and vegetables can be contaminated with bacteria. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends four simple steps to prepare food safely at home: Clean, separate, cook, and chill.

  • Get Vaccinated

Getting your annual influenza vaccine and keeping up to date on all immunizations can help prevent illness.

How Healthcare Professionals Can Help Prevent Antibiotic Resistance

Healthcare professionals can take several steps to protect patients from drug-resistant infections:

  • Prescribe Antibiotics Carefully

Make sure to stay up to date on the recommend antibiotics practices and doses. CDC offers many resources for healthcare professionals.

  • Educate Your Patients

Tell patients about the side effects and risks associated with the antibiotics they are taking. Inform patients about antibiotic resistance and the dangers of misuse.

  • Wash Your Hands

Wash your hands frequently, use gloves, ensure your instruments are clean, and exercise good patient contact precautions.

  • Get Vaccinated

Keeping yourself healthy can ensure that you do not transmit harmful pathogens to your patients.

  • Take the Antibiotic Stewardship Pledge

Antibiotic stewardship is the effort to measure and improve how antibiotics are prescribed by clinicians and used by patients. NFID and multiple other public health organizations have been working to solve this problem. Help support these organizations and take the Antibiotic Stewardship Pledge.

Download the NFID Antibiotic Stewardship Pledge for display in your office to show your commitment to reducing antibiotic resistance through appropriate antibiotic use.


Reviewed November 2020

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention