Antibiotics save millions of lives each year, but recent trends indicate that our reliance on this class of drugs is on shaky foundations. 20-50% of all antibiotics prescribed in U.S. hospitals are either unnecessary or inappropriate. Poor prescribing decisions puts individual patients at risk of super-resistant infections, preventable allergic reactions, and deadly diarrhea. The misuse of antibiotics also contributes to antibiotic resistance, making these drugs less likely to work in the future.
Hospital leaders can help combat these issues by creating a proactive antibiotic stewardship program.
Leapfrog scores hospitals on their commitment to principles set down by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Hospitals can meet Leapfrog's standard by adopting an antibiotic stewardship program that includes these core elements:
- Leadership Commitment: Dedicating necessary human, financial and information technology resources
- Accountability: Appointing a single leader responsible for program outcomes. Experience with successful programs show that a physician leader is effective
- Drug Expertise: Appointing a single pharmacist leader responsible for working to improve antibiotic use.
- Action: Implementing at least one recommended action, such as systemic evaluation of ongoing treatment need after a set period of initial treatment (i.e. “antibiotic time out” after 48 hours)
- Tracking: Monitoring antibiotic prescribing and resistance patterns
- Reporting: Regular reporting information on antibiotic use and resistance to doctors, nurses and relevant staff
- Education: Educating clinicians about resistance and optimal prescribing
This measure is publicly reported as Appropriate Use of Antibiotics in Hospitals on Leapfrog's Hospital Ratings Results page.