Close Up Of Pills Pouring Out Of A Prescription Medication Bottle; Image credit: Getty Images

Despite the inherent difficulties in reducing antibiotic use in long-term care settings, success is possible when industry providers fully engage in stewardship, according to the results of a new study across hundreds of facilities.

“Those who do the work, get the results,” said researcher Morgan Katz, M.D., of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Researchers from Johns Hopkins and the NORC at the University of Chicago conducted a year-long evaluation of antibiotic stewardship training and implementation in 523 facilities nationwide. Participants could take part in 15 webinars provided by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality between December 2018 and November 2019. 

Attendees learned about how to establish and maintain antibiotic stewardship protocol in a long-term care facility, methods for improving teamwork and communication, and best practices for diagnosing and managing infections without antibiotics overuse.

The 439 facilities that completed the program significantly shrank the number of antibiotic treatment courses started and the length of drug therapies using fluoroquinolones and other oral antibiotics. These facilities also significantly cut the number of urine cultures performed per 1,000 resident days, addressing another factor known to increase the likelihood of unnecessary antibiotic use. 

Despite the industry’s high staff turnover rates and limited resources, “reframing antibiotic use as a patient safety issue and incorporating direct care staff in the prescribing process can make these programs more sustainable,” said Katz.

Full findings were published today in JAMA Network Open.

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