What Is Antibiotic Stewardship?

A call to action for managing antibiotic prescription and administration

In essence, antibiotic stewardship is a call to action to implement an organizational or system-wide health-care strategy to promote appropriate use of antimicrobials through evidence-based interventions.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that only 50% of antibiotics are used correctly globally and that drug-resistant infections already cause at least 700,000 deaths worldwide every year, a figure that could increase to 10 million deaths globally per year by 2050 if no action is taken.1

Effective antibiotic stewardship can reduce this type of misuse and help slow the emergence of antibiotic resistance.3

With antibiotic stewardship, physicians can increase the prudent use of antibiotics when it benefits the patient. At the same time, antibiotic stewardship minimizes the likelihood of adverse effects from antibiotic overuse. These include toxicity—the selection of pathogenic organisms such as Clostridioides difficile (C. diff)—and the emergence or spread of antimicrobial resistance.2

An effective antibiotic stewardship program focuses on reducing the inappropriate use of antibiotics while promoting their prudent use. In short, this means the right antibiotic for the right patient, at the right time, with the right dose, and for the right duration. 

Important considerations 

Up to 50% of antibiotic
prescriptions are unnecessary.1

Important considerations

In 2015, the healthcare community and WHO raised a call for the implementation of antibiotic stewardship programs to address the increase in antibiotic resistance and the rise of unneeded antibiotic prescribing.5 

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. Tackling antimicrobial resistance [fact sheet] [Internet]. World Health Organization. World Health Organization; 2019 [cited 2021Mar30]. Available here.
  2. EU Guidelines for the prudent use of antimicrobials in human health [Internet]. Official Journal of the European Union; 2017 [cited 2021Mar30]. Available here.
  3. Hyun D. What is antibiotic stewardship—and how does it work? [Internet]. Philadelphia, PA, USA. [updated 2019 Feb 14; cited 2020Dec8] Available here.
  4. Pletz M. Rational antibiotic therapy - Is less more? Der Klinikartzt 2019; 48(11):454-455.
  5. Global action plan on AMR [Internet]. World Health Organization. World Health Organization; 2016 [cited 2021Mar31]. Available here.