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Most hospitals fall short in following best practices for antibiotics use, study finds

Of the hospitals studied, only 39 percent had an action plan in place.

Beth Jones Sanborn, Managing Editor

An analysis of more than 4,100 U.S. hospitals shows less than 40 percent have the recommended stewardship programs in place to guide the use of antibiotics for patient care. The findings were part of a study published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.

The study evaluated 4,184 hospitals using the 2014 National Healthcare Safety Network Annual Hospital Survey to see if their Antibiotic Stewardship Programs met the seven major criteria outlined by the CDC.

Those criteria include: dedicating necessary human, financial and information technology resources; appointing a single leader responsible for program outcomes(physician leaders have been proven to be successful); appointing a single pharmacist leader responsible for working to improve antibiotic use: implementing at least one recommended action, such as systemic evaluation of ongoing treatment need after a set period of initial treatment; monitoring antibiotic prescribing and resistance patterns; regular reporting information on antibiotic use and resistance to doctors, nurses and relevant staff; and educating clinicians about resistance and optimal prescribing, according to the CDC website.

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[Also: Hospital infections, sometimes fatal, still plague healthcare]

The study pointed out that the National Action Plan to Combat Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria demands improvement in the prescribing of antibiotics as a crucial element of preventing resistance, and said Antibiotic Stewardship Programs will be an important element in efforts to improve prescribing. However, it also said implementing these programs is a process that is not well-understood.

Of the hospitals studied, only 39 percent had an ASP in place that met the seven criteria laid out by the CDC. Also, 59 percent of the hospitals who had ASP's were larger facilities with more than 200 beds, while 25 percent of those with ASP's that met the criteria were smaller hospitals with less than 50 beds, the study said.

"Our findings show that ASP implementation varies across the U.S. and provide a baseline to monitor progress toward national goals. Comprehensive ASPs can be established in facilities of any size and hospital leadership support for antibiotic stewardship appears to drive the establishment of ASPs," the authors wrote.

Twitter: @BethJSanborn