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What C-Level Executives Need to Know About Antimicrobial Stewardship

Inappropriate use of antibiotics has created increasingly resistant pathogens and more develop resistance every day. In the US, multidrug resistant organisms (MDROs) now infect two million people annually, resulting in about eight million hospital days and causing 23,000 deaths, according to the CDC. 1

Infection-related issues directly affect your healthcare organization:

  • MDROs increase bottom-line costs: Infections with drug-resistant pathogens cost American hospitals between $20 billion and $35 billion each year in medications, labor and care costs; 70% are non-reimbursable healthcare-associated infections (HAIs).2 Legal fees and insurance costs push infection-related costs up further.

  • They expose you to increased regulatory focus and fines: In 2014, 721 hospitals saw Medicare reimbursements cut 1% as a result of high rates of HAIs and 2,610 hospitals were fined for having too many readmissions within a month of discharge, a problem frequently related to HAIs. Poor performing hospitals now have up to 5% of their Medicare reimbursements at risk. 3

  • MDROs can damage your reputation: As hospitals’ HAI rates are now visible to concerned consumers on the CMS Hospital Compare website, high rates may result in loss of patients and revenue.

To address the urgent need to prevent the emergence of MDROs, the CDC formally recommended antimicrobial stewardship programs (ASPs) for all hospitals last year. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services are expected to mandate that U.S. acute care, critical care and long-term care hospitals implement antimicrobial stewardship programs by the end of 2017. The state of California already requires ASPs.

Antimicrobial stewardship programs help clinicians improve patient care and safety by increasing infection cure rates, reducing treatment failures and increasing optimal therapeutic treatment. They also save hospitals $200,000 to $900,000 per year4 by reducing inappropriate antimicrobial prescriptions, unnecessary days of therapy and use of expensive, broad spectrum drugs when narrower antimicrobials are as effective.

A hospital that implemented an ASP with strong administrative commitment, sufficient budget, multidisciplinary expertise and a clinical decision support program with electronic surveillance reported:

  • Reducing antimicrobial usage by 15%-25%.
  • Cutting antimicrobial expenditures by 10%-35%.
  • Saving up to $750,000 per year in antimicrobial costs.

Increasing the number of clinical interventions to improve appropriate use of antimicrobials, in some cases, by as much as 750%.

MDROs pose a serious risk to patient health and are driving up hospital costs and increasing the regulatory burden on hospitals. An ASP can help your healthcare organization prevent MDROs, improve hospital financials and patient care, and contribute to a better healthcare environment for your surrounding community.

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Antibiotic resistance threats in the United States, 2013.

  2. Fishman N. Antimicrobial Stewardship 2014: National and regional trends. University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine. September 30, 2014.

  3. Rau J. Medicare Cuts Payments to 721 Hospitals with the Highest Rates of Infections, Injuries. Kaiser Health News. December 18, 2014.

  4. IDSA/SHEA Guidelines for Antimicrobial Stewardship Programs

Antimicrobial stewardship ebook. Click to download.

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