National Quality Forum launches antibiotic stewardship playbook

With reports suggesting that drug-resistant superbugs could kill 10 million people a year by 2050, healthcare experts have compiled a playbook that offers hospitals across the country tools and solutions to improve antibiotic stewardship.

Arjun Srinivasan, M.D., associate director for healthcare-associated infection prevention programs for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in a press conference Wednesday that the CDC estimates about 2 million patients each year are infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria and an additional 500,000 suffer Clostridium difficile-related diarrhea, which is caused by improper prescribing of antibiotics.

What's more, a recent study found that 30 percent of antibiotics are inappropriately prescribed.

The Antibiotic Stewardship Playbook, launched by the National Quality Forum, is available online for free and seeks to curtail both issues by focusing on the CDC's seven core elements:

  • Leadership commitment
  • Accountability
  • Drug expertise
  • Actions to support optimal antibiotic use
  • Tracking and monitoring antibiotic prescribing, use and resistance
  • Reporting information on improving antibiotic use and resistance
  • Education of clinicians, patients and families

The playbook was developed with input from 40 experts and survey responses from more than 4,000 U.S. hospitals. Each section is tailored to one of the core elements and offers suggestions for large hospitals and smaller, rural facilities. It also details potential challenges at each step, based on experiences from the experts involved in the process. For smaller rural hospitals, the playbook offers suggestions on how to acquire needed resources that may not be available locally.

"This playbook, really for the first time, is a remarkable document that is characterized by usability," Sara Cosgrove, M.D., director of the Antimicrobial Stewardship Program at Johns Hopkins Hospital, said during the press conference. "This has it all in one place for the experienced stewardship provider and also for the people who are trying to start stewardship programs."

To learn more:
- read the playbook (.pdf)
- visit the initiative's website

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