'Get Smart About Antibiotics Week' Puts Spotlight on Antimicrobial Stewardship

By on 5:23 AM

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has dedicated the week of November 14–20 as "Get Smart About Antibiotics" for the purpose of raising awareness in the United States about the use and misuse of these powerful drugs. Note: World Antibiotics Awareness Week is held during the same time period.

Less than two months ago, the United Nations reached out globally for assistance in fighting antimicrobial resistance across many sectors. The incidence of resistant organisms arising in the community and institutionalized patients is occurring at an alarming rate, and immediate action needs to be taken by prescribers in order to reduce morbidity and mortality. In addition, misuse of antimicrobials can result in the often deadly gastrointestinal infection Clostridium difficile.

Inappropriate antibiotic prescribing takes place across the continuum of care, with outpatient care reporting the highest incidence of antibiotic prescribing and use. CDC reports that approximately 154 million visits each year to outpatient facilities result in antibiotic prescription. In addition, at least 30% of antibiotics prescribed in doctor's offices, emergency departments and hospital clinics are unnecessary. This equates to 47 million unnecessary prescriptions written in those settings. Each year in the United States, at least 2 million people become infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics and at least 23,000 people die as a direct result of these infections.

Hospitals have been developing and maintaining antimicrobial stewardship (AMS) programs for at least the past five years, with approximately 48% of all hospitals in 2015 having instituted a program. In March 2015, the White House issued a "National Action Plan to Combat Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria," which included a goal of 100% of hospitals establishing an AMS program by 2020. CDC developed "Core Elements of Hospital Antibiotic Stewardship Programs in 2014," which is widely used by many hospitals nationwide.

Ambulatory care has become an important arena in the fight against injudicious use of these medications. The antibiotics National Action Plan called for a 50% reduction in antibiotic usage in outpatient settings by 2020.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) recently released a "Nursing Home Antimicrobial Stewardship Guide." AHRQ had previously released a toolkit for reduction of Clostridium difficile infections through antimicrobial stewardship.

CDC's "Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work" website has a vast array of resources for patients and healthcare professionals.

Facilities, including hospitals, nursing homes and outpatient settings such as ambulatory surgery centers, should continue efforts to comply with federal requirements for antibiotic use and prevention of adverse outcomes.

Healthcare infection control consultant Phenelle Segal, RN, CIC, president and founder of Infection Control Consulting Services, is a stakeholder and member of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) steering committee established to involve the federal government in the prevention and reduction of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs). She has served on the committee as an advisor for the HAI elimination action plan and also coordinated an antimicrobial stewardship program for The Health Care Improvement Foundation in 2012-2013. Phenelle played a clinical role and was responsible for developing outcome and process measures for participating healthcare facilities in Southeastern and Central Pennsylvania.

Phenelle and the ICCS team of infection prevention consultants assist healthcare organizations with the development of AMS programs as part of the ongoing effort to preventing infections. Contact ICCS to learn more about how ICCS can help your organization.

Phenelle Segal, RN, CIC, FAPIC

Phenelle Segal, RN, CIC, FAPIC, is the founder and president of Infection Control Consulting Services LLC (ICCS). Phenelle has more than 30 years' experience providing customized comprehensive infection control and prevention services to healthcare facilities nationwide. Her services focus on assisting hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, dental office and oral surgery practices, doctor's offices, nursing homes and other organizations with implementing and maintaining an infection control program that: complies with The Joint Commission, AAAHC, Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) and other regulatory agencies; respond to situations of noncompliance; and improve the processes for reducing risk.