As covered in the previous VIC blog post, the UN organized a meeting in September to draw the attention of health care providers, researchers, and politicians to the growing problem of antibiotic resistance throughout the world. On November 11th, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued new guidelines to limit unnecessary prescriptions for antibiotics and to promote more responsible prescribing patterns in outpatient facilities. The Core Elements of Outpatient Antibiotic Stewardship outline four pillars that outpatient health care providers should adapt their practice around including commitment, action for policy and practice, tracking and reporting, and education and expertise. The CDC proposed the new pillars in an effort to encourage physicians to curb their excessive antibiotic prescribing practices, which could limit the transmission of antibiotic-resistant infections and effectively decrease the associated costs of medical treatment.
The CDC developed the new guidelines in response to recent reports that highlighted the majority of inappropriate antibiotic prescriptions as being for viral infections and the tendency of providers to prescribe broad-spectrum antibiotics for common bacterial infections. The reports revealed areas of potential improvement to physicians and researchers and presented the problem of antibiotic resistance as largely preventable through commitment to change in outpatient facilities. In order to improve, the CDC suggests that outpatient practices monitor the antibiotic prescribing history of its physicians and provide each clinician with data on their performance relative to his or her coworkers. The governmental guidelines also encourage outpatient practices to educate physicians about proper antibiotic prescribing and clinicians to spend more time with patients to clearly explain when antibiotics are and are not necessary.
The guidelines are easily adaptable and offer outpatient facilities a great deal of flexibility in how they choose to implement and enforce certain provisions from the report. In addition, the guidelines offer a clear evidence-based pathway for clinicians to limit the spread of antibiotic-resistant infections, preventing potential deaths and slowing the rise in health care costs.
Written by: Ben Maxner