Medications have come a long way, but are they overutilized?
While antibiotics have transformed the practice of medicine by making once-lethal infections readily treatable and making other medical advances possible, there can still be dangers in improper applications of those medications.
Prompt initiation of antibiotics to treat infections reduces morbidity and save lives, for example, in cases of sepsis. However, about 30 percent of all antibiotics prescribed in U.S. acute care hospitals are either unnecessary or suboptimal, according to a recent CDC report.
About five years ago, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) called on all hospitals in the United States to implement antibiotic stewardship programs and released the Core Elements of Hospital Antibiotic Stewardship Programs (Core Elements) to help hospitals achieve this goals of improving medical outcomes while effectively treating infections, protect patients from harm caused by unnecessary antibiotic use, and combat antibiotic resistance.
The Core Elements outlines structural and procedural components that are associated with successful stewardship programs. In 2015, The United States National Action Plan for Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria set a goal for implementation of the Core Elements in all hospitals that receive federal funding.
The new Core Elements for Hospital Antibiotic Stewardship Program document (updated for 2019) are applicable in all hospitals, regardless of size. Specific suggestions for smaller hospitals are found within the document.
“There is no single template for a program to optimize antibiotic prescribing in hospitals. Implementation of antibiotic stewardship programs requires flexibility due to the complexity of medical decision-making surrounding antibiotic use and the variability in the size and types of care among U.S. hospitals,” read a recent CDC release.
“In some sections, CDC has identified priorities for implementation, based on the experiences of successful stewardship programs and published data. The Core Elements are intended to be an adaptable framework that hospitals can use to guide efforts to improve antibiotic prescribing. The assessment tool that accompanies this document can help hospitals identify gaps to address.”