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Illinois health officials concerned about antibiotics misuse

Antibiotics have become a major cause of concern in the public health community over the past several years. Misused or overused antibiotics have repeatedly led to the creation of so-called bacterial superbugs that become immune to frontline antibiotics.

Now, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health, superbugs are plaguing medical facilities around the state. Officials believe that the culprit is the unnecessary use and overuse of antibiotics in nursing homes and hospitals.

State officials estimate that perhaps 50 percent of antibiotic use in hospitals is either inappropriate or unnecessary. The figure is closer to 75 percent in long-term care facilities such as nursing homes.

To address the situation, health officials are working together with 18 hospitals in Illinois to electronically monitor and report antibiotic use. They also plan to hold statewide meetings and monthly online seminars for medical professionals to discuss the hazards that come with the misuse of antibiotics.

The concern over antibiotics use shows that nursing home neglect or nursing home abuse is not limited to physical, emotional or mental abuse. It can also take the form of medication errors or overmedication. In such cases, the medical conditions of nursing home residents can be compromised.

Nursing staff and other health-care professionals in nursing homes should be properly trained about correct dosages and the types of medication needed by residents. They should also be educated about side effects that come with any medication and instructed about how to immediately inform the relatives of residents of any changes in medication or adverse effects.

If Illinois residents suspect loved ones are being mistreated in a nursing home, they should seek the assistance of a legal professional. A professional familiar with the state's elder laws and long-term care facilities can help with any investigation and determine whether a lawsuit should be filed.

Source: WIFR, "Illinois officials say Most prescribed Antibiotics Misused," Mar. 5, 2014

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