CDC issues 4 keys for better antibiotic stewardship


A core framework released by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) aims to guide practices toward better antibiotic prescribing practices.

The CDC report cites statistics indicating an estimated 23,000 deaths per year in the United States caused by antibiotic resistance. Previous studies have shown that at least 30 percent of antibiotics are prescribed unnecessarily in the United States, and on top of that, roughly half the prescriptions written for humans “might be inappropriate, including antibiotic selection, dosing, or duration,” according to the CDC.

This has given rise to calls for antibiotic stewardship programs aimed at balancing patient needs with the potential harm improper prescribing does to population health. The CDC’s framework rests on four elements:

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  • Provider commitment. The CDC emphasizes the need for all healthcare team members to commit to appropriate prescription habits. The report encourages practices to demonstrate that commitment in ways such as delegating a leader to organize and oversee a stewardship program, and displaying tangible public evidence of the practice’s commitment, such as a poster or a letter.
  • Data tracking. By tracking and reporting antibiotic prescribing practices, clinics can both set a baseline by which to evaluate their stewardship and provide an opportunity to track their quality in comparison to peers, according to the CDC.
  • Increased education. The CDC recommends greater educational outreach for both patients and clinicians, in order to better manage the expectations of both groups. For patients, this can take the form of educational materials and straightforward communication about situations in which antibiotics are unnecessary. For clinicians, it means appropriate continuing education, including advice on effective communication with patients, per the report.
  • Implementation of policies and practices. In order for stewardship policies to be effective, the CDC recommends practices make changes in clear steps, tied to achievable goals in order to support clinicians. The report also reminds practices to assess their policies and make modifications as necessary to ensure their effectiveness.

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