University of Chicago Medical Center's antibiotic stewardship efforts include patient outreach

A successful antibiotic stewardship program builds relationships not just with doctors but also with patients, according to the medical director of the University of Chicago Medical Center's stewardship program.

The program's outreach includes a Facebook page and a Twitter feed that extend its reach beyond the hospital's walls, Jennifer Pisano, M.D., said in an interview with Becker's Infection Control & Clinical Quality. Pisano, an infectious disease specialist, runs the program along with a pharmacist who is an expert in antibiotics.

Outpatients insistent on having a certain antibiotic will just go somewhere else to get it, but education and relationship-building ensures "people understand we aren't abandoning them" by suggesting other options, Pisano said. 

"If we don't think antibiotics are necessary for a patient who wants them, there are a lot of ways to meet in the middle with them."

When doctors disagree with the recommendations, "we reinforce the fact that everything we do and all of our recommendations are evidence-based. If there's guidance in the literature, we can do some educating and in turn the specialty physicians can educate us," she said.

Some experts recommend that as part of their own antibiotic stewardship programs, doctors write patients "provisional" prescriptions for antibiotics with instructions to use them only if their symptoms don't improve by a certain dates. Also recommended: Acknowledge that patients have probably been given antibiotics for cold symptoms in the past, but advise that the antibiotics won't help.

Research suggests that among other benefits, antibiotic stewardship programs can significantly cut readmissions caused by infection.

To learn more:
- read the interview