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The Importance of Antibiotic Stewardship Programs

By CIOReview | Friday, July 27, 2018

The overuse of antibiotics allows bacteria to evolve in a manner that eliminates the medicine’s ability to cure and prevent infections. Moreover, antibiotics can cause side effects including clostridium difficile infections. Antibiotic stewardship programs are vital to ensure the effectiveness of antibiotics currently in use. Researchers at Intermountain Healthcare and the University of Utah Health have recently conducted a study to identify how community hospitals with less than 200 beds could develop antibiotic stewardship programs to prevent the growth of such antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

The study showed that an effective program involved a pharmacy-based initiative where local pharmacists reviewed antibiotic prescriptions along with infectious disease specialists to provide recommendations for local providers. Certain broad-spectrum antibiotics were restricted unless approved by a centralized infectious disease pharmacist. Additionally, a 24/7 infectious disease hotline staffed by a specialist was implemented to answer any queries. The program helped reduce broad-spectrum antibiotic use by 25 percent and total antibiotic use by 11 percent. The results of the study made it clear that while small hospitals are incapable of reducing antibiotic use by themselves, it was certainly possible by sharing experts and resources within a system.

In light of the study, hospitals across the U.S. are required to implement antibiotic stewardship programs by the Joint Commission to improve antibiotic prescribing in hospitals and help ensure its effectiveness. Researchers are determined that formation of a centralized infectious disease-supporting program can help decrease the overuse of broad-spectrum drugs, which are used to target a wide range of disease causing bacteria. This in turn will help address the growing issue of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.