New trial strives to reduce unnecessary use of antibiotics in PA/LTC facilities

A $1.5 million national trial will be held to analyze ways to reduce unnecessary use of antibiotics in post-acute and long-term care facilities, the University of Pittsburgh Schools of Health and Sciences announced.

The three-year study, led by the University of Pittsburgh's School of Medicine, will look at strategies to manage urinary tract infections in PA/LTC facilities, as they are commonly misdiagnosed and incorrectly treated. In fact, about 60% of diagnosed UTIs turn out not to be correct, and those patients end up taking unnecessary medicine.

The team will study 40 PA/LTC facilities from Pennsylvania, Texas, North Carolina and Wisconsin, with half of facilities receiving guidelines and consistent mentoring, and half operating normally. The number of UTIs before and after the trial, along with the types of treatment, will be recorded for one year. The study is funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Antibiotic use is highly variable, according to JAMA Internal Medicine, which exposes residents to increased risk of antibiotic-related harms. If used incorrectly, antibiotics can kill good bacteria while allowing harmful bacteria to develop. They can also cause allergic reactions, and are the leading cause of adverse drug reactions in LTC facilities.