Newsroom > DHHS News Release

For Immediate Release
November 15, 2017

Leah Bucco-White, Communications and Legislative Services, 402-471-9356
State Showing Progress in Fight Against Healthcare-Associated Infections

DHHS program working to promote antibiotic stewardship and reduce risk for Nebraskans

Lincoln – Did you know? About half of all antibiotics are prescribed inappropriately according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Misuse and overuse of antibiotics can cause serious side effects and lead to resistant bacteria which can be harder to treat.

“Antibiotic resistance is an ongoing threat to the public’s health,” said Dr. Tom Williams, Chief Medical Officer and Director of Public Health for the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. “It’s critical that Nebraskans get the right antibiotic for the right reason and for the right amount of time which will help keep us healthy now and ensure these lifesaving drugs will continue to be effective in the future.”

DHHS’ Healthcare-Associated Infections (HAI) program and partners are working on several efforts to reduce unnecessary antibiotic use and HAIs including:

Antibiotic Stewardship Programs: Improving prescribing of antibiotics and education and training for providers on the best way to use antibiotics

  • Antimicrobial Stewardship Assessment and Promotion program with Nebraska Medicine works with facilities to create model antibiotic stewardship programs which helps antibiotics be used more appropriately.
  • New antibiotic stewardship programs at all Omaha and Lincoln Catholic Health Initiatives hospitals.
  • Development of Nebraska-specific antibiogram which shows the percentage of bacteria showing up in Nebraska that are resistant to certain antibiotics. This tool will help providers select the correct antibiotic for a particular infection.

Reducing risk of healthcare-associated infections

  • The Nebraska Infection Control Assessment and Promotion program helps strengthen the quality of infection control at healthcare facilities.
  • Nebraska is one of 10 states selected to partner with the CDC on its One and Only campaign. The campaign helps ensure that injections given to Nebraskans are safe.

Improving disease reporting

  • Nebraska is the only state that can currently directly access electronic reports for antibiotic resistance in real time. Electronic reports from laboratories in the state are sent to a DHHS database daily. DHHS disease experts monitor these to pick up resistant bacteria and potential outbreaks which helps prevent transmission to other people. 
  • Made more healthcare-associated infections reportable diseases in our state.

“Many of these combined efforts have helped foster and support a safer healthcare environment and produced a significant decrease in two types of HAIs in Nebraska, central line associated blood stream infection and bloodstream infections with MRSA by close to 30 percent. Other infections are still at rates higher than we like to see, but overall we as a state are showing improvement in our HAI rates,” said Dr. Maureen Tierney, who heads the HAI program within DHHS. 

“Nebraska's HAI program has a comprehensive approach to reduce healthcare-acquired infections including innovative strategies to detect and monitor microbes with antibiotic resistance and ensure appropriate use of antibiotics in healthcare settings,” said Dr. Ali S. Khan, Dean of the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Public Health.

Nebraska partners working with DHHS on reducing healthcare-associated infections and preventing antibiotic resistance include: Nebraska Medicine/UNMC, Nebraska CHI hospitals, Nebraska Hospital Association and Great Plains Quality Innovation Network.

This week is Antibiotic Awareness Week. CDC encourages patients and families to:

  • Get the facts about antibiotics. Antibiotics do not work on viruses, such as colds and flu, or runny noses. When antibiotics aren’t needed, they won’t help you, and the side effects could still hurt you.
  • Ask your doctor or nurse about the best way to feel better while your body fights off a virus. Pain relievers, fever reducers, saline nasal spray or drops, warm compresses, liquids, and rest may help.
  • If you need antibiotics, take them 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 Clostridium difficile (c. diff) infection, which needs to be treated.  
  • Stay healthy and keep others healthy by washing hands, covering coughs, staying home when sick, and getting recommended vaccines, for the flu, for example.

Find more information about healthcare-associated infections along with resources for providers and patients –

CDC Antibiotic Fact Sheet - Seven things you need to know –