New CDC Guidance Aims to Help Improve Antibiotic Use, Combat Resistant Bacteria

‘Core elements’ offer important resource for effective outpatient antibiotic stewardship

New CDC Guidance Aims to Help Improve Antibiotic Use, Combat Resistant Bacteria
Outpatient

Recent research from Pew and CDC underscores the urgent need for stewardship efforts in outpatient settings, where the majority of antibiotics used in health care are prescribed.

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This week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released its “Core Elements of Antibiotic Stewardship for Outpatient Settings,” which outlines key aspects of successful antibiotic stewardship in doctors’ offices, emergency departments, and other outpatient care provider locations. Facilities that adopt these policies to minimize unnecessary antibiotic use can reduce drug-resistant infections, improve patient outcomes, and lower total health care costs. CDC previously released core elements of antibiotic stewardship in other health care settings, including hospitals and nursing homes.

Recent research from Pew and CDC underscores the urgent need for stewardship efforts in outpatient settings, where the majority of antibiotics used in health care are prescribed.  The key findings show that approximately 1 in 3 outpatient antibiotic prescriptions is unnecessary, resulting in 47 million excess prescriptions each year. The majority of these unnecessary prescriptions are for acute respiratory conditions such as colds, bronchitis, flu, and other viral illnesses that do not respond to antibiotics. Additionally, only half (52 percent) of patients who receive antibiotics for three common infections—sinus infections, middle ear infections, and pharyngitis (sore throat)—are being treated with the right type of drug for their condition.

The research reveals significant room for improvement in the way antibiotics are prescribed, and CDC’s new core elements will be an important resource for the outpatient health care community. Many leading health care organizations have already committed to working with their members to reduce inappropriate drug use. Pew will continue to collaborate with these organizations, policymakers, and other stakeholders to encourage implementation of these core elements, and to work with CDC to track progress toward appropriate antibiotic use.

David Hyun, M.D., is a senior officer on Pew’s antibiotic resistance project, focusing on research and policy development pertaining to stewardship of antibiotics in human health care.

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Antibiotic Use in Outpatient Settings

Health experts create national targets to reduce unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions

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Antibiotic use in outpatient health care settings, such as primary care offices and emergency rooms, represents the majority of dollars spent on antibiotics for human health care in the United States. Beginning in 2015, The Pew Charitable Trusts convened a panel of experts, including representatives from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other public health and medical experts to analyze current outpatient antibiotic prescribing habits in the United States, determine targets for reducing inappropriate prescribing, and identify steps needed to reach these targets.

Outpatient antibiotics selection
Outpatient antibiotics selection
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National Targets to Improve Outpatient Antibiotic Selection

Antibiotic stewardship is key to addressing inappropriate use

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Issue Brief

Ensuring the appropriate use of antibiotics is critical to improving patient care and minimizing the development of antibiotic resistance. Antibiotic use in outpatient health care settings, such as primary care clinics and emergency rooms, represents the majority of dollars spent on antibiotics for human health in the United States and should be a focus for efforts to ensure that antibiotics are prescribed only when necessary and that the appropriate antibiotic is selected.