Aetna’s Tireless Efforts on Tackling Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria

Over 20 states in America have a high fail rate of prescribed antibiotics to treat acute bronchitis. Aetna is working with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to identify clinicians who have inappropriately prescribed the antibiotics. By tracking these clinicians down and informing them of the issue, Aetna is helping to combat the spread of resistant bacteria, or “superbugs.”

Because they have adapted to the prescribed antibiotics intended to fight off the bacteria, superbugs can be extremely dangerous. In other words, antibiotics are not effective against viruses. At this rate, the adaption will worsen so long as clinicians continue to prescribe antibiotics unnecessarily to treat viruses. Ultimately, the over-exposure to antibiotics makes it more difficult to destroy the bacteria. To put it in context, 70 percent of patients who get infections in hospitals today are infected with bacteria that is now resistant to at least one antibiotic that used to kill them.

For example, there was the outbreak of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus, also known as Staph infections. In 2005, clinics abused methicillin. Consequently, there was an estimated 18,000 deaths in the U.S, due to conventional antibiotics being useless in stopping the infection. Limiting the amount of prescribed antibiotics is important in keeping America healthier and away from superbugs.

What is Aetna Doing to Help Prevent Superbugs?

Aetna sent more than 1,100 letters to clinicians in the United States who prescribed an antibiotic to treat acute bronchitis. Much like the letters they have sent to clinicians who over-prescribe opioids, the letter informs them of the consequences in over-prescribing. “Reaching out and reminding doctors of evidence-based treatment practices for acute bronchitis will keep patients and families healthy in the long run,” said Harold L. Paz, M.D., M.S., executive vice president and Aetna’s chief medical officer. To thank the clinicians, who follow proper treatment and guidelines for treating acute bronchitis, Aetna sent out 127 letters of gratitude. These are all in efforts of Aetna’s continuing approach to its provider outreach initiative.

What can you do to help?

If you (or your child) have a virus, don’t try to convince your doctor to prescribe an antibiotic as treatment. In the end, it isn’t likely to help, and it could end up hurting us all. To help combat the epidemic, you should take the necessary steps to prevent sickness and avoid health issues. Ask your doctor for alternative medicines or methods to subdue the symptoms of the virus you have.

Disclaimer: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.

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