Antimicrobial Stewardship in Long-Term Care Facilities: A Call to Action

Haley J Morrill, Aisling R Caffrey, Robin L P Jump, David Dosa, Kerry L LaPlante
Journal of the American Medical Directors Association 2016, 17 (2): 183.e1-16
Antimicrobial resistance is a global public health crisis and a national security threat to the United States, as stated in an executive order signed by the president in September 2014. This crisis is a result of indiscriminant antimicrobial use, which promotes selection for resistant organisms, increases the risk of adverse drug events, and renders patients vulnerable to drug-resistant infections. Antimicrobial stewardship is a key measure to combat antimicrobial resistance and specifically seeks to do this by improving antimicrobial use. Antimicrobial stewardship compliments infection control practices and it is important to note that these 2 disciplines are distinct and cannot be discussed interchangeably. Antimicrobial stewardship promotes the appropriate diagnosis, drug, dose, and duration of treatment. The appropriate diagnosis falls into the hands of the prescriber and clinical staff. Optimal antimicrobial drug selection, dosing strategy, and duration of treatment, however, often require expertise in antimicrobial therapy, such as an infectious disease-trained physician or pharmacist. Therefore, successful antimicrobial stewardship programs must be comprehensive and interdisciplinary. Most antimicrobial stewardship programs focus on hospitals; yet, in long-term care, up to 75% of antimicrobial use is inappropriate or unnecessary. Thus, one of the most pressing areas in need for antimicrobial stewardship is in long-term care facilities. Unfortunately, there is little evidence that describes effective antimicrobial stewardship interventions in this setting. This review discusses the need for and barriers to antimicrobial stewardship in long-term care facilities. Additionally, this review describes prior interventions that have been implemented and tested to improve antimicrobial use in long-term care facilities.


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