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:
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.
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.