An antibiotic stewardship training program for healthcare professionals can cut in half the use of antibiotics for urinary tract infections while maintaining patient safety, a study in the British Medical Journal finds.

Researchers compared data on the numbers of antibiotic prescriptions for suspected urinary tract infections among 1,041 older adults at 38 senior care homes in the Netherlands, Norway, Poland and Sweden.

The intervention group included facilities in an antibiotic stewardship training program where doctors, nurses and nurse assistants received instruction and participated in discussions on optimal care for suspected UTIs. The program included a decision tool for appropriate antibiotic use.

Those who followed the program cut in half the number of UTI antibiotic treatments compared with a control group. There were no differences in complications, hospitalizations or deaths ensuing from UTIs.

“The effectivity across diverse settings in our study makes it plausible that tailored implementation in other countries would be effective as well,” the researchers wrote. 

They said more work is needed for UTI prevention, improved choice and duration of antibiotics, and reduced unnecessary use.