Researchers at the University of Louisville have been combing through Kentucky’s Medicaid claims data to help the state get a better sense of the use — or overuse — of prescription antibiotics.
The UofL-led research and education campaign, called Kentucky Antibiotic Awareness (KAA), is aimed at reducing the number of unnecessary antibiotics prescriptions throughout the state.
Kentucky is consistently ranked No. 1 for per capita children’s prescriptions and jockeys for first with neighboring West Virginia for most prescriptions per capita overall. Nationally, it’s estimated that only one in three antibiotic prescriptions is necessary.
“The big picture, scary concept is antibiotic resistance,” said Dr. Bethany Wattles, a pharmacist at the UofL School of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics. “If we continue to overuse antibiotics, then in 10, 20, 30, 40 years, those drugs won’t work anymore.”
She said antibiotic resistance may render them useless for everything from making surgery sanitary, to treating the most simple infections. And aside from antibiotic resistance, overuse of antibiotics can cause unwanted side effects, like diarrhea.
“We want to prevent all of that as much as possible,” she said.
Aside from their research, the KAA team is also conducting an educational campaign aimed at teaching healthcare providers and the community about overprescribing antibiotics and its possible consequences.
The campaign is a a collaboration with the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services Department of Medicaid Services and the Kentucky Department of Public Health under a State University Partnership contract called, “Improving Care Quality for Children Receiving Kentucky Medicaid.”
You can listen to a radio interview with Dr. Wattles on UofL Today with Mark Hebert.