UMMC saves $3M by monitoring unnecessary meds

After monitoring the unnecessary use of antibiotics for three years, the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore shaved $3 million from its annual budget, according to a study published in the April Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology.

The medical center's seven-year antimicrobial stewardship program, which helped identify when antibiotics are needed and which meds are most appropriate, slashed antibiotic spending per-patient day by almost 50 percent, according to information from the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA).

What's more, the study found that the cost savings did not hurt care quality, as the hospital reported no increases in mortality, length of stay or readmission.

But after UMMC ended the program in 2008, antimicrobial costs jumped by 32 percent, adding up to about $2 million, within two years, the study noted.

Given the success of UMMC's med monitoring program, SHEA, the Infectious Diseases Society of America and the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society are urging that antimicrobial stewardship be included in the curriculum for all healthcare professionals, according to a policy paper also in next month's Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology.

The groups also want the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to require participating healthcare organizations to develop antimicrobial stewardship programs and interventions.

Meanwhile, with hospital cost savings in mind, a Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) study released in January suggested that using over-the-counter (OTC) medications could save the healthcare system tens of billions of dollars a year in additional costs.

"OTC medicines allow the healthcare system to focus its limited resources on the diagnosis and treatment of more serious diseases that require physician involvement, while providing consumers the opportunity to care for themselves," the study states.

To learn more:
- read the study press release
- here's a press release on the policy paper
- check out the CHPA study (.pdf)