Antibiotic stewardship for staff nurses: Five Key Ways you Influence Antibiotic Use

Mary Lou Manning, PhD, CRNP, CIC, FAAN, Thomas Jefferson University

American Nurse Today, Volume 11, Issue 5, May 2016, Pages 12-14. The published version is available at American Nurse Today. Copyright © HealthCom Media


Over the past decade, antibiotic resistance has increased and spread dramatically throughout the world. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), antibiotic use is the single most important factor leading to antibiotic resistance. The CDC estimates that every year, 2 million Americans develop serious infections involving bacteria that resist one or more antibiotics, and these infections kill at least 23,000 each year.

Antibiotic prescribing in U.S. acute-care hospitals is common— and often unwarranted. A 2014 study found that up to half of hospitalized patients received at least one antibiotic and in 30% to 50% of these cases, antibiotics were unnecessary or inappropriate. Such antibiotic misuse contributes to the emergence and spread of antibioticresistant organisms, such as methicillin- resistant Staphylococcus aureus and vancomycin-resistant enterococci. (See Unheeded warnings.) If you’re a staff nurse, you’ve probably witnessed firsthand the consequences of inappropriate antibiotic use, ranging from development of Clostridium difficile (a well-recognized cause of healthcare- associated infectious diarrhea) to fatal infections with multidrugresistant pathogens against which no effective antibiotic therapy exists. What’s more, antibiotic-resistant infections add considerably to medical costs, with estimates as high as $35 billion a year.