Preventing Antibiotic-Resistant Infections

NYU Langone doctors recommend several simple approaches to avoiding an antibiotic-resistant infection.

Appropriate Use of Antibiotics

Preventing an antibiotic-resistant infection starts with the appropriate use of antibiotic medications. Antibiotics are designed to treat bacterial infections, not viral infections like colds or the flu. If you contract a bacterial infection, such as pneumonia or a staphylococcal infection, and a doctor prescribes an antibiotic, it’s crucial that you take the medicine exactly as your doctor tells you. 

It’s important not to skip doses and to take all of the medicine, even if you start feeling better. If you stop taking an antibiotic too soon, you can become sick again—and some bacteria may survive and develop resistance to the medication.

Never share antibiotic medicines or take antibiotics prescribed for someone else. The antibiotic may not be appropriate for your illness, and taking the wrong medication may delay your treatment and allow the bacteria to multiply.

Good Hand Hygiene

Good hand hygiene can also prevent antibiotic-resistant infections from spreading. Doctors recommend washing your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, particularly after touching your nose, mouth, or infected areas.

Healthcare Facility Precautions

Hospitals and other healthcare facilities follow strict infection-control guidelines, and those precautions extend to visitors. People visiting a loved one in a hospital should wash their hands with soap and warm water before and after leaving the room or using the bathroom. 

If a person in a healthcare facility has an antibiotic-resistant infection, he or she often has a private room to avoid spreading the illness to others.

Healthcare providers frequently put on gloves and wear a gown over their clothing while caring for people with antibiotic-resistant infections. Visitors may also be asked to wear a gown and gloves.

When leaving the room, hospital workers and visitors must remove the gown and gloves and wash their hands.

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