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Area hospital working to reduce overprescribed antibiotics

By: Melissa Gundersen
EL PASO, Texas -- Doctors across the county and in the Borderland are making some patients even sicker by over prescribing medications, according to the Center for Disease Control, and one area hospital is taking action.

Like doctors at all hospitals, when a patient becomes sick with an illness that can be treated, those at University Medical Center will typically prescribe an antibiotic.

Being that it's the county hospital we see a lot more patients than do the regular for-profit hospitals. So we tend to see the sicker patients, said Enrique Soto-Ruiz, a pharmacist at UMC.
According to the CDC the number of patients leaving the hospital with a prescription is spiking. The CDC reports more than half of all hospital patients receive an antibiotic and doctors in some hospitals prescribe three times as many antibiotics as doctors in other hospitals do.
When asked if hospitals in the Borderland overprescribe medications, Soto-Ruiz said, I think its everywhere.  Its been seen.  I think its just starting to be addressed more so now.
Overprescribing antibiotics has short-term effects.  
There are a lot of times where you'll treat a patient and they'll develop side effects, said Soto-Ruiz. 
Overprescribing antibiotics also has more serious long-term effects.
It becomes a problem of resistance, said Soto-Ruiz.
To reduce the problem in the Borderland, UMC took the CDCs advice and developed a stewardship program to monitor the issue.
Weve incorporated a collaborative effort between microbiology, pharmacy and all the physicians with Texas Tech, said Soto-Ruiz.
Soto-Ruiz said the way it works is a doctor will first order any tests they need in order to determine what's wrong with the patient. At the same time, UMC officials said the doctor will prescribe antibiotics.
Well let you order it, but then we'll evaluate the use later (within 48 hours) and kind of have that discussion with the physician, said Soto-Ruiz.
After an evaluation the doctor can adjust or stop the antibiotic.
Although UMC's stewardship program is still in its infancy, Soto-Ruiz said, It has shown cost-effectiveness as well as resistance trends going down.
At the moment, Soto-Ruiz said UMC is the only hospital in the Borderland that