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Four Ways Surveillance Can Benefit Your Antimicrobial Stewardship Program

Sustainable, effective antimicrobial stewardship programs depend on automated surveillance systems to provide easy to understand, integrated, real-time information. Electronic surveillance systems provide four key benefits to your antimicrobial stewardship program:

They allow you to focus on education and intervention by automatically aggregating data from feeds throughout the hospital. Surveillance systems work with existing hospital information systems to pull together information from the electronic medical record, lab and other clinical sources. By aggregating and sorting data on a real-time basis, they enable you to shift from combing through data to educating staff and intervening to improve antimicrobial stewardship (AMS) practices.1

They improve patient care by generating real-time alerts to potential problems. Automated systems that combine surveillance and clinical decision support tools provide a strong foundation for your antimicrobial stewardship program by generating alerts on HAIs and MDRO trends, flagging bug-drug mismatches and unnecessary therapy, prompting changes in delivery methods (IV to oral), indicating time outs to verify antibiotic need, and tracking patient indicators of adjustments needed of dosage or medication. They also identify patients who are receiving inappropriate or ineffective antimicrobial therapy, based on microbiology and lab results matched against patient record and pharmacy data. Because the data are processed and correlated on a real-time basis, the timely alerts dramatically improve the time of effective treatment and improve patient care.2

They keep you informed about the resistance of organisms seen in your hospital, so you can use the narrowest effective drug to treat patient infections and save money. Automated systems generate an antibiogram that allows you to see which pathogens have developed resistance to which antimicrobials on a unit and facility-wide basis. As a result, you know which therapies to use—and avoid—as soon as you receive laboratory identification of the infectious agent. This improves patient outcomes by getting them on effective treatments more quickly, reduces pharmacy costs and protects patient and community health.

They enable you to quickly see and share trends in adoption of good antimicrobial stewardship practices. Electronic surveillance systems can offer a range of customizable reports that allow you to track prescribing trends, costs, interventions and patient outcomes. These reports provide support for the antimicrobial stewardship program by showing management the impact of good stewardship on the bottom line and patient care. They also facilitate discussions with outlying prescribers about their prescribing practices relative to their colleagues and compared to hospital AMS policies. In addition, they can simplify reporting to the National Healthcare Safety Network and state agencies.

Is surveillance benefiting your antimicrobial stewardship program in additional ways? Please leave your comments below.

1 Greene LR, Cain TA, Khoury R, Krystofiak SP, Patrick M, Streed S. APIC position paper. The importance of surveillance technologies in the prevention of healthcare–associated infections (HAIs). Am J Infect Control. 2009 Aug;37(6):510–513.

2 Doron S, Davidson LE. Antimicrobial Stewardship. Mayo Clin Proc. Nove 2011;86(11):1113-1123.

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