CDC Recommends Antibiotic Stewardship Programs for Hospitals

"Improving antibiotic prescribing can save today's patients from deadly infections and protect lifesaving antibiotics for tomorrow's patients," said CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden, M.D., MPH.

A new Vital Signs report from CDC recommends that hospitals implement antibiotic stewardship programs, saying this step could reduce infections significantly. Another benefit is that because the same antibiotics that are frequently being prescribed incorrectly can prime patients for super-resistant infections, these infections will be less likely to occur.

According to CDC, about one-third of the time, prescribing practices to treat urinary tract infections and prescriptions for the drug vancomycin included a potential error: given without proper testing or evaluation or given for too long. The report state that hospitals' 30 percent reduction in use of the antibiotics that most often cause deadly diarrheal infections with Clostridium difficile could curb those infections by more than 25 percent.

"Improving antibiotic prescribing can save today's patients from deadly infections and protect lifesaving antibiotics for tomorrow's patients," said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. "Health care facilities are an important part of the solution to drug resistance and every hospital in the country should have a strong antibiotic stewardship program."

CDC recommends that the stewardship program include these seven core elements:

  • Leadership commitment: Dedicate the necessary human, financial, and IT resources.
  • Accountability: Appoint one leader responsible for program outcomes; physicians have proven successful in this role.
  • Drug expertise: Appoint a single pharmacist leader to support improved prescribing.
  • Act: Take at least one prescribing improvement action, such as requiring reassessment of prescriptions within 48 hours to check drug choice, dose, and duration.
  • Track: Monitor prescribing and antibiotic resistance patterns.
  • Report: Regularly report prescribing and resistance information to clinicians.
  • Educate: Offer education about antibiotic resistance and improving prescribing practices.

The report indicated the most common types of infections for which hospital clinicians write prescriptions are urinary tract infections, lung infections, and suspected infections caused by drug-resistant Staphylococcus bacteria.

"Today's antibiotics are miracle drugs, but they are endangered," said Dr. Arjun Srinivasan, a CDC medical epidemiologist. "These new materials provide core elements and practical tools for beginning and advancing antibiotic stewardship programs."

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