Sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), November 18-24 is observed as U.S. Antibiotic Awareness Week (USAAW). This week-long observance would highlight the steps everyone can take to improve antibiotic prescribing and use, also known as antibiotic stewardship. USAAW also aims to increase global awareness of antibiotic resistance and encourage best practices among the general public, health workers and policy makers to avoid the further emergence and spread of antibiotic resistance. Antibiotics are meant to save lives by treating a number of common and more serious infections. However, the constant overuse and misuse of antibiotics in human and animal health have encouraged the emergence and spread of antibiotic resistance, which occurs when microbes such as bacteria become resistant to the drugs used to treat them, says the World Health Organization (WHO). Long-term use of antibiotics can be reimbursed. A medical billing company can ensure necessary support to physicians.

Even though antibiotics are powerful medicines used to treat or prevent infections caused by bacteria and save lives, unnecessary prescription of antibiotics is risky. According to the CDC, at least 30% of the antibiotics in U.S. outpatient settings are prescribed unnecessarily. Taking antibiotics without actual need for them can cause side effects and lead to one of the most urgent threats to public health, antibiotic resistance.

Antibiotic resistance is a serious and growing concern in modern medicine. This infection occurs when bacteria develop the ability to defeat the drugs designed to kill them. Each year in the United States, at least 2 million people become infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics and at least 23,000 people die as a direct result. Many more die from complications from antibiotic-resistant infections (www.cdc.gov).

The only way to fight antibiotic resistance is to improve the way healthcare professionals prescribe antibiotics, and the way we take antibiotics. It is important that this medical concern is effectively addressed so that these lifesaving drugs will be available for future generations.

This year on USAAW, CDC’s educational effort, “Be Antibiotics Aware: Smart Use, Best Care” is the year-round attempt to improve antibiotic prescribing and use, and combat antibiotic resistance. Here are seven facts CDC shares that you should know to Be Antibiotics Aware.

Antibiotics:

  • Save lives, especially, when a patient needs them. Their benefits outweigh the risks of side effects or antibiotic resistance.
  • Aren’t the only answer, everyone can help improve antibiotic prescribing and use.
  • Do not work on viruses, such as those that cause colds, flu, bronchitis, or runny noses, even if the mucus is thick, yellow, or green.
  • Are only needed for treating infections caused by bacteria. But even some bacterial infections get better without antibiotics, including many sinus infections and some ear infections.
  • Will not make you feel better if you have a virus. Respiratory viruses usually go away in a week or two without treatment. Ask your healthcare professional about the best way to feel better while your body fights off the virus.
  • Should be taken exactly as prescribed. Talk with your doctor if you have any questions about your antibiotics, or if you develop any side effects, especially diarrhea, since that could be a Clostridioides difficile infection (also called C. difficile or C. diff), which needs to be treated.
  • Are critical tools for treating life-threatening conditions such as pneumonia and sepsis.

CDC encourages healthcare professionals, patients, and families to learn more about antibiotic prescribing and use.

ICD-10 Coding for Use of Antibiotics

Z79.2: Long term (current) use of antibiotics

However, there are many ICD-10 codes for resistance to antimicrobial drugs, such as:

  • Z16: Resistance to antimicrobial drugs
    • Z16.1: Resistance to beta lactam antibiotics
    • Z16.2: Resistance to other antibiotics
    • Z16.3: Resistance to other antimicrobial drugs

The Z16 codes are provided for use as additional codes to identify the resistance and non-responsiveness of a condition to antimicrobial drugs.

Physicians need to focus on identifying, documenting and managing antibiotic use and antibiotic-resistant infections effectively. With proper physician documentation, medical billing and coding companies can help healthcare providers report medication resistance correctly