TRI-CITIES, Wash. -- The Centers for Disease Control reports antibiotic-resistant germs are now responsible for killing 23,000 Americans each year.
Healthcare workers at Kadlec tell KEPR it could happen here. Action News found out how many people in our area could be taking antibiotics they don't need.
When Alexa Weber was a baby her mom would take her straight to the doctor at the first sign of sickness.
"It was let's go to the doctor you're coughing, let's go to the doctor you've got a runny nose," said Weber, adding “I used to get strep throat a lot and I think part of that was the medicine they put me on."
Weber says she took antibiotics for everything and thinks she built a resistance to it.
Antibiotic resistance is a trend healthcare expert at Kadlec are now tracking more than ever with a new program.
"The purpose of my job is to look at the antibiotics our patients are on and make sure they’re appropriate," said Kadlec Pharmacist Kristen Williams-Ellis.
Williams-Ellis says antibiotics only work to fight bacterial infections and not viral and they could become a double edged sword when used incorrectly.
"We are losing our ability to fight some common bacterial infections because we've just used them too much," said Williams-Ellis.
She says antibiotics like azithromycin, commonly known as the z-pack, will help with strep throat. However, antibiotics it won't do any good for viral infections, typically what cause your runny nose or common cough.
KEPR dug through data in the 2016 Washington Health Alliance report.
Doctors from around the state found 35 percent of patients in Benton County were prescribed potentially unnecessary antibiotics to treat respiratory infections.
In Franklin County it’s 34 percent.
“Now we need to backtrack to find out how we can slow it down,” said Williams-Ellis.
Williams-Ellis says you play a role in this process as a patient.
“Always talk to your pharmacist or healthcare provider about what you can do to treat the symptoms as opposed to just asking for an antibiotic,” she said.
Additionally, Williams-Ellis suggests asking if the cure can come over the counter first.
"Feel free to ask the question what bacteria are you treating what am I using this for," said Williams-Ellis.
Weber says she constantly asks these questions to avoid antibiotic resistance for her baby.
“I always say do I really need it, or can I just wait it out," said Weber.
Experts at Kadlec say you should take the full dose of antibiotics when a doctor does prescribe them and never use leftovers from a previous infection.
That goes for antibiotic creams as well.