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Pilot Program Helps Decrease Antibiotic Overuse

A recent Cedars-Sinai initiative is already showing promise in combating a rising global health threat — drug-resistant infections, largely due to overuse of antibiotics.

The Antimicrobial Stewardship team is seeing initial success in its "Get Smart About Antibiotics" campaign to ensure antibiotics are used effectively at the hospital. The team's plan features best practice alerts in CS-Link and emphasizes delivering "the right antibiotic for the right patient at the right time."

In four pilot programs launched in December, the team has asked healthcare providers to reassess the need for continuing antibiotics for three days or more. If further antibiotic treatment is warranted, providers must be able to justify its use.

Another important part of the pilots involves the widening use of rapid diagnostic testing with timely physician notification. In less than two hours, test results can help determine how antibiotic treatments should be modified to meet the individual needs of the patient. This compares favorably to traditional methods where two or three days were required for results.

So far, the pilots have seen antibiotic therapies decrease by as much as 35 percent, exceeding the original goals.

"This is a big win," said Rehka Murthy, MD, medical director of the Department of Hospital Epidemiology. "It reflects a lot of work and coordination between prescribers, pharmacists, laboratory staff and other caregivers. Our focus is on getting the right antibiotic quickly to our patients; often, that involves stopping or narrowing antibiotics, but in many instances it includes escalating therapy when appropriate."

With the positive results, the team is considering expanding the program hospitalwide next year.

For more information on how to safely use antibiotics, visit the website of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.