RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association, along with the state health department and health care providers across Virginia, are all supporting efforts to raise awareness about the overuse of antibiotics.

“Much of the antibiotic that we prescribe is essentially inappropriate,” said Dr. Gonzalo Bearman, head of infectious diseases at VCU Medical Center.

Bearman says too many patients ask for and too many doctors prescribe antibiotics for things like the cold, or the flu, which are diseases that don’t need them. He says as a result patients are seeing more side effects from the drugs and more importantly, serious diseases are becoming resistant.

“There’s been a rise over the years of drug-resistant infections, bacterial, or otherwise and that’s a real problem,” said Bearman.

In fact each year, at least 2 million Americans become infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria, resulting in 23,000 deaths. Bearman says antibiotics have been a game changer for the medical world.

“In modern medicine, if you think of the last 100 years in medicine, the biggest things have been vaccines, sanitation, and antibiotics,” said Bearman.

He says if diseases become more and more resistant to the drugs, it will lead to a serious public health risk.

“Such as serious infections of the lungs, of the kidneys, of the skin and the soft tissues and those will be less susceptible to antibiotics,” said Bearman.

But he says if patients and doctors seriously cut down on the use of antibiotics, then the troubling trend can be reversed.

The CDC created this page with information about how you can help prevent overusing antibiotics.

Never miss another Facebook post from 8News

Find 8News on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram; send your news tips to