THURSDAY, Oct. 20 (HealthDay News) -- Hospital programs to lessen the overuse of antibiotics are helping to reduce antibiotic resistance and costs, but too few hospitals have fully implemented such programs, according to new research.
Antimicrobial stewardship guidelines -- intended to prevent antibiotic resistance -- for acute care hospitals in the United States were released in 2007 by the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) and the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America, but many hospitals had implemented antimicrobial stewardship programs before that.
"We believe strongly that antimicrobial stewardship is beneficial and prevents the escalation of resistance in bacterial infections, but it's nearly impossible to prove a direct cause and effect," Dr. Ruth Lynfield, chair of IDSA's Antimicrobial Resistance Work Group, said in a society news release.
"These research studies -- including the longest study to date -- found a decrease in resistance, as well as a decrease in cost with implementation of these programs. Resistant infections can be very difficult and costly to treat. Unnecessary antibiotic use can cause adverse effects as well as add costs. We hope that studies such as these will help convince other hospitals to invest in antimicrobial stewardship," Lynfield said.
In a 17-year study to be presented at the IDSA's annual meeting, researchers found that an antimicrobial stewardship program implemented in 1993 at Wesley Medical Center in Wichita, Kan., was associated with greater susceptibility of bacteria to antibiotics and a decrease in the amount spent on antibiotics.
Antibiotics now account for 9 to 14 percent of the medical center's yearly pharmacy budget, compared with 22 percent before the start of the program.
"We've definitely seen improvements, some gradual, some quite dramatic," Derick Gross, a clinical pharmacist in adult medicine at Wesley, said in the news release.
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