An Update from the Rhode Island Department of Health

Winter 2017


Dear Colleagues:

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are urging healthcare professionals to prescribe antibiotics only when necessary in an effort to help fight antibiotic resistance and the spread of superbugs. CDC recently launched its Be Antibiotics Aware campaign to raise awareness about the importance of safe antibiotic prescribing and use. RIDOH is proud to participate in this effort.

RIDOH’s Antimicrobial Stewardship and Environmental Cleaning Task Force has launched an ambitious campaign, from now through January, to get patient-centered information about antibiotics via radio advertising and social media. We are also distributing Be Antibiotics Aware brochures and posters to interested provider practices and pharmacies.

The new Be Antibiotics Aware initiative provides resources to help improve antibiotic prescribing among healthcare professionals, focusing on prescribing antibiotics only when needed, and at the right dose for the right duration and at the right time. The campaign reminds and encourages healthcare professionals to:

  1. Follow clinical guidelines when prescribing antibiotics.
  2. Prescribe the right antibiotic, at the right dose, for the right duration, and at the right time.
  3. Protect your patients. Only prescribe antibiotics when they are needed. You can do harm by prescribing antibiotics that aren’t needed.
  4. Tell your patients why they don’t need antibiotics for a viral infection, what to do to feel better, and when to seek care again if they don’t feel better.
  5. Talk to your patients and their families about possible harms from antibiotics, such as allergic reactions, C. difficile, and antibiotic-resistant infections.
  6. Watch for signs of sepsis, which can be life-threatening. If you suspect sepsis, start antibiotics immediately. Signs include confusion or disorientation, shortness of breath, rapid heart rate, fever/shivering/feeling very cold, extreme pain or discomfort, and clammy or sweaty skin.
  7. Follow hand hygiene and other infection-prevention measures with every patient.

Be Antibiotics Aware has resources to help you educate patients and families about antibiotic use and risks for potential side effects. The materials are appropriate for both inpatient and outpatient settings. I encourage you to review CDC’s stakeholder toolkit and share this information with your patients and colleagues. I also encourage you to consider showing the short videos on RIDOH’s Antibiotic Awareness channel on Youtube in your waiting rooms.

For more information and other resources, visit or If you have any questions or would like to request “Be Antibiotics Aware” materials, please contact RIDOH for more information.