Every Hospital Needs An Antibiotic Stewardship Program

Alok S. Patel, MD


October 19, 2018

Do you know what your hospital's antibiotic stewardship program does?

Your hospital does have one, right?

It's a big issue because 20%-50% of all antibiotics prescribed in US hospitals are either inappropriate or totally wrong.[1] This has consequences. Every year, 2 million people are infected with bacteria that are antibiotic resistant. Antibiotics are the most common cause of drug-related adverse events in children. We have 500,000 cases of Clostridium difficile a year—you get the point!

But even with all of the awareness, we are still seeing inappropriate prescriptions for things like pneumonia, urinary tract infections, skin infections, sinus infections, and more.

Implementation of antibiotic stewardship programs is the key for helping us decrease the use of unnecessary, broad-spectrum antibiotics. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a successful program involves the elements of leadership commitment, accountability, drug expertise, action, tracking, reporting, and education.[2]

Large hospitals have the resources to do this, and over 50% have set up a successful program. According to recent studies, small hospitals can do just the same with an infectious disease specialist and a lead pharmacist.[3]

It can be done.

We still have work to do. Even with a perfect antibiotic stewardship program, it's still on us to follow protocols, review our choices after 2-3 days when you get micro results, and hold each other accountable.

So, a few questions: Does your hospital have an antibiotic stewardship program? Do you know what the program does? What can we all be doing better?

We want to hear from you. It's us versus the superbugs!


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