Critical Guidance on Antibiotic Use Issued

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Decades of overprescribing and misuse of antibiotics have resulted in bacteria that are increasingly resistant to current drugs, creating a growing threat of new “superbugs” that are difficult, and sometimes even impossible, to treat, according to a press release from Vizient, Inc., the largest member-owned healthcare company in the United States.

To help acute-care hospitals in the U.S. implement strategies to promote appropriate, safe use of antibiotics, the National Quality Forum (NQF), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and Hospital Corporation of America (HCA), led a team of more than 25 experts, which included representatives from Vizient, Inc., to create the Antibiotic Stewardship in Acute Care: A Practical Playbook. The Playbook is based on CDC’s Core Elements of Hospital Antibiotic Stewardship Programs.

The CDC estimates that the inappropriate use of antibiotics causes antimicrobial resistance that leads to two million illnesses and 23,000 deaths annually. In addition, antibiotic overuse and misuse have spurred the spread of Clostridium difficile infections that can cause life-threatening colitis. NQF’s National Quality Partners galvanized NQF member organizations and others to tackle this national priority.

“Antibiotic resistance is a public health crisis that can strike anyone with devastating effects,” said Arjun Srinivasan, M.D. (CAPT, USPHS), associate director for healthcare associated infection prevention programs, division of healthcare quality promotion, CDC, and co-chair of NQP’s antibiotic stewardship action team. “The Playbook provides a flexible structure with real-word examples for hospitals to use as they create high-quality antibiotic stewardship programs that meet the needs of their communities.”

The Playbook provides practical strategies to guide the implementation of antibiotic stewardship programs in U.S. hospitals. Examples of strategies include team-wide, systematic approaches to: assessing when patients need antibiotics and when treatment should be adjusted; educating staff, family, and patients about appropriate antibiotic use; and, tracking and reporting antibiotic prescribing, use, and resistance.

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