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What is Antibiotic Resistance?

A call to action for managing antibiotic prescription and administration to combat antibiotic resistance

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), antibiotic stewardship is the effort to measure and improve how antibiotics are prescribed by clinicians.1 In essence, antibiotic stewardship is a call to action.

1/3 antibiotic prescriptions are unnecessary.2

That’s because U.S. data reveals high levels of unneeded antibiotic prescribing across healthcare settings. For example, the CDC says that 1 in 3 antibiotic prescriptions written in doctors’ offices, emergency rooms, and hospital-based clinics—about 47 million prescriptions annually—is completely unnecessary.2 Effective antibiotic stewardship can reduce this type of use and help slow the emergence of antibiotic resistance.3

But the key is implementing an effective antibiotic stewardship program, one focused on:

  • Reducing antibiotic duration
  • Optimizing the prescription of antibiotics

A clear path for antibiotic stewardship adoption will ensure that antibiotic prescription is limited to patients with relevant bacterial infection who can benefit from that treatment. In accordance with these efforts, specific protocols and tests can enable hospitals to customize treatment and prescribe the right antibiotic for the right patient, at the right time, with the right dose, and for the right duration.

Livesaving considerations

IV filled with clear liquid | Antibiotic stewardship

Important considerations

The fight against antibiotic resistance

Antibiotics are a double-edged sword. Since their introduction in 1943, antibiotics have saved millions of lives. However, over the last several decades, the inappropriate prescription and overuse of antibiotics has revealed a significant downside to the medication: resistance. When antibiotics are prescribed for a duration that is longer than necessary, or prescribed too broadly, they may develop adverse drug events and may increase resistance and mortality.4

As bacteria, single-celled organisms with simple internal structures, are exposed to antibiotics, the bacteria adapt and become increasingly able to defeat the drugs. Bacterial evolution can happen gradually or quickly, but antibiotic use may only accelerate the process.

Important considerations

Given the increase in antibiotic resistance and the crisis of unneeded antibiotic prescribing, the healthcare community and CDC raised a call for antibiotic stewardship programs in 2014 to help mitigate the situation.

More hospitals are investing in antibiotic stewardship programs. Is yours?
Learn more about antibiotic stewardship programs

Learn more about implementing optimized procalcitonin testing in your hospital. 

  1. Adedeji WA. The Treasure Called Antibiotics. Ann Ib Postgrad Med. 2016 Dec;14(2):56-57. PMID: 28337088; PMCID: PMC5354621.
  2. "Causes of Antimicrobial (Drug) Resistance." National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,
  3. Riaz, L. et al. (2020). Antibiotics Use in Hospitals and Their Presence in the Associated Waste. In: Hashmi, M. (eds) Antibiotics and Antimicrobial Resistance Genes. Emerging Contaminants and Associated Treatment Technologies. Springer, Cham.
  4. "Antibiotic Resistance." World Health Organization, World Health Organization,
  5. CDC. Core Elements of Hospital Antibiotic Stewardship Programs. Atlanta, GA: US Department of Health and Human Services, CDC; 2014. Available at implementation/core-elements.html.
  6. "Antibiotic Resistant Germs in Hospitals." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 8 Oct. 2019,
  7. Antimicrobial Stewardship Interventions: A Practical Guide.
  8. Krishna MT, Vedanthan PK, Vedanthan R, et alIs spurious penicillin allergy a major public health concern only in high-income countries?BMJ Global Health 2021;6:e005437.
  9. Wilson HL, Daveson K, Del Mar CB. Optimal antimicrobial duration for common bacterial infections. Aust Prescr. 2019 Feb;42(1):5-9. doi: 10.18773/austprescr.2019.001. Epub 2019 Feb 1. PMID: 30765902; PMCID: PMC6370607.
  10. "What Is Procalcitonin?: Understanding PCT." Thermo Fisher Scientific,
  11. "Hemodialysis, Bacterial Pneumonia and Antibiotic De-Escalation: Procalcitonin & Bacterial Infection." Thermo Fisher Scientific,