56% of antibiotic treatments found inappropriate in hospital study

Credit: Joana Carvalho
Credit: Joana Carvalho

[A] study, led by researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and published [March 18] in JAMA Network Open, found that 56% of antibiotic use was unsupported in patients being treated at US hospitals in 2015 because the patients didn’t have specific signs or symptoms of infections, the wrong antibiotic was prescribed, or the length of treatment was too long.

Specifically, the study found that 79% of all antibiotic treatments for community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) and 77% for urinary tract infections (UTIs) were inappropriate, while 46% of all fluoroquinolone and 27% of all intravenous vancomycin treatment was inappropriate.

Based on these findings, a panel convened by the Pew Charitable Trusts that includes infectious disease, public health, and antibiotic stewardship experts from the CDC and medical centers across the country has determined that inappropriate antibiotic treatments for CAP and UTIs could be reduced by 90%, while unnecessary fluoroquinolone and vancomycin use could be reduced by 95%.

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“We anticipated there would be opportunity to improve antibiotic prescribing practices for the four prescribing scenarios, but we were a little surprised by the magnitude of the problem,” [Director of the CDC’s Office of Antibiotic Stewardship Lori Hicks] said. 

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