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Notice to Readers: Get Smart About Antibiotics Week -- October 6 -- 10, 2008

October 6 -- 10 is Get Smart About Antibiotics Week. The theme of this observance is "The power to prevent resistance is in your hands."

Inappropriate use of antibiotics to treat upper respiratory infections (URIs) can result in unnecessary risk for adverse events and contribute to the likelihood of antibiotic resistance. Adverse events related to antibiotics (usually allergies or drug intolerance) resulted in an estimated 142,500 emergency department visits annually in the United States during 2004 -- 2006 (1). In addition, inappropriate and excessive antimicrobial use can increase a community's risk for antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections that might lead to severe or prolonged illness, hospitalization, and sometimes death. Educating clinicians and the public regarding appropriate use of antibiotics might help reduce adverse drug events, including antibiotic resistance.

As part of Get Smart About Antibiotics Week, health-care providers are urged to take the following actions to help reduce antibiotic resistance and other adverse drug events:

  • Know when antibiotics are indicated, and avoid prescribing antibiotics for URIs such as pharyngitis, bronchitis, sinusitis, and the common cold, which are primarily caused by viruses.
  • Instead of prescribing antibiotics for URIs, identify and validate patient concerns and recommend symptomatic therapy.

Additional information about Get Smart About Antibiotics Week is available at


  1. Shehab N, Patel PR, Srinivasan A, Budnitz DS. Emergency department visits for antibiotic-associated adverse events. Clin Infect Dis 2008;47:735 -- 43.

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Date last reviewed: 10/1/2008


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Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report
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