Handling antibiotics with care in Georgia
Dr Marika Tsereteli is an infectious disease specialist at the High Technology Medical Centre, University Clinic, in Tbilisi, Georgia. Here, she answers questions about her experiences with antibiotic resistance.
How frequently do you experience antibiotic resistance in your work?
Very frequently, it is one of the main problems in the intensive care unit.
What have you experienced when treating patients with infections that are resistant to antibiotics? How does it affect patients emotionally and psychologically, as well as physically?
The first emotion we see our patients experience is disappointment – disappointment that comes from beginning an appropriate treatment and seeing no response. After this, we move in another direction – we begin reserve antibiotics, which are prescribed only for hospitalized patients by a specialist. Of course, the second phase of treatment lengthens the duration of hospital stay. It costs a lot of money and is very stressful for the patient, as well as physically hard on their already damaged organs.
What steps do you take to prevent infections among your patients and also to ensure that infections are treated properly?
I follow the guidelines about infection control and prevention carefully, taking clinical samples of every patient with signs of infection. I am also implementing antibiotic stewardship and surveillance of antibiotic consumption. Furthermore, I work with the hospital epidemiologists to make sure that the medical staff take relevant measures for infection prevention and control.
How do you help encourage your patients to use antibiotics properly?
I explain their situation in detail, and I tell them that antibiotics are not always a good choice. They work only when they have a target – bacteria. If there is no target, they only do harm. My patients know that I am always available for them and want the best for them, so they know I won’t delay prescribing antimicrobials when the time is right.
What does the slogan “Handle with care” mean to you, as a health professional?
“Handle with care” – it means that every health professional must think carefully every time they prescribe antibiotics. They must be prescribed only when absolutely necessary. If people continue using them improperly, as they have been, in a few years we will be facing resistant bugs all alone, without any weapon. It is time to preserve our strongest – but also, in some instances, dangerous – friend for really desperate situations.