Explaining Antibiotic Stewardship

Written By: Biomeme Staff

Overuse of antibiotics has led to a losing battle against mutating, drug-resistant bacteria. A restrained approach to antibiotic prescription will be key to addressing this massive global health challenge.

What is Antibiotic Stewardship?

Antibiotic stewardship (ABS) is one of the pivotal challenges to global health of our time. This concept refers to the responsibility shared by all healthcare providers in doctors’ offices, hospitals, urgent care and long-term care facilities, and health systems globally to exercise restraint and prudence in the prescription and application of antibiotics. This is necessary because of a surge in global antibiotic resistance, which is rendering current drugs obsolete and outpacing development of new drugs. Antibiotic stewardship is a critical step in fighting antibiotic resistance and can help protect the long-term health of people, animals, and the planet. 

A simple way to understand antibiotic stewardship is the 5 D’s of antibiotic therapy, which indicates:

  1. The right Drug
  2. The correct Dose
  3. The right Drug-route
  4. The correct Duration
  5. And timely De-escalation of antibiotic use

Why are rapid lab tests important for antibiotic stewardship?

Rapid diagnostic testing (RDT) plays a crucial role in antibiotic stewardship programs (ABS). Early identification supports the use of effective and targeted therapies, leads to shorter hospital stays, and improves outcomes for patients and providers, lessening impacts on healthcare systems overall. Prescribing the right therapy for each situation preserves the usefulness and effectiveness of current antibiotics. Using the right RDTs also empowers health care professionals to correctly identify when antibiotics should and should not be used.

Biomeme_Insights_Rapid Lab Tests

What are 3 types of antibiotic stewardship interventions?

Antibiotic stewardship programs (ASPs) are effective in reducing antibiotic resistance, improving patient outcomes, and saving money. These programs are feasible and effective for in-and out-patient facilities. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CDC’s Core Elements of Hospital Antibiotic Stewardship Programs provide evidence-based guidelines for healthcare providers, including hospitals, outpatient services, and nursing homes. Across all these groups, the core elements of successful implementation illustrate opportunities for positive impact at all levels within an organization, starting with clearly articulated commitments by leaders who allocate the time and resources needed to operate these programs in ways that empower others to manage, track, report, and act.

Using the resources provided through the Core Elements, interventions can be designed that fit an organization’s needs and resources. One intervention is taking policy-based action by defining and implementing processes and practices that improve antibiotic use through auditing existing practices and developing treatment recommendations. A second intervention can be to implement tracking and reporting protocols to monitor prescribing practices and track outcomes so that accountability can be enforced at all levels. An important third intervention is to provide case- and evidence-based training programs for prescribers, pharmacists, doctors, nurses, and patients to gain buy-in at all levels.

Antibiotic resistance is a global health issue. Without ongoing and coordinated efforts at the state, national, and global levels, we face a reality in which major surgeries cannot be conducted and people will die from treatable infections. This post-antibiotic world, if not addressed, could cost up to $100 trillion globally and kill 10 million people annually by 2050. 

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