A new study from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and NORC at the University of Chicago found that the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s (AHRQ) Safety Program for Improving Antibiotic Use is highly effective in reducing unnecessary antibiotic use in assisted living communities and nursing homes. The study also found that the safety program helped long-term care providers ensure that the proper dosage was used when necessary.
Researchers found that 439 of the 523 communities that participated in the year-long safety program saw significant decreases in antibiotic treatments and the length of treatment using fluoroquinolones and other oral antibiotics. The study focused on oral antibiotics because they are used more frequently in long-term care. Using the AHRQ’s safety program, there was a more significant reduction in oral antibiotic use than antibiotics given intravenously.
The safety program also helped reduce the number of urine cultures performed. The study’s lead author, assistant professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins Medicine, Dr. Morgan Katz, said that “routine urine tests may be positive for harmless or protective bacteria, leading to unnecessary antibiotic therapy.”
Dr. Katz also suggested that “improvements in antibiotic use were more pronounced in long-term care communities with “greater engagement” in the safety program and that when it comes to “antibiotic stewardship, those who do the work get the results.”
The study acknowledges the difficulty in implementing sustainable and effective programs in long-term care due to staff shortages, high turnover, and limited resources. Dr. Katz recommended “reframing antibiotic use as a patient safety issue, and incorporating direct care staff in the prescribing process” to make safety programs more sustainable.
Read more here or view AHRQ’s Toolkit to Improve Antibiotic Use in Long-Term Care.