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CDC: Hospitals Must Improve Antibiotic Use

March 10, 2014

More than half of all hospital patients receive at least one antibiotic. In some hospitals, doctors prescribe three times as many antibiotics as doctors in other hospitals. And studies have shown that at least 50 percent of those antibiotics are unnecessary or prescribed incorrectly. 

Those practices are alarming to public health leaders concerned about health care-associated infections (HAIs) and the antibiotic-resistant bacteria that fuel many of them. In the latest Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) published Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported new data about antibiotic use in hospitals.

But just as antibiotic overuse is common, there are ample opportunities to improve prescribing practices and improve patients’ health. Georgia is leading the way in efforts to promote antibiotic stewardship in health care facilities. The CDC highlighted Georgia’s work as a success story in its Vital Signs report last week.

Cherie Drenzek, D.V.M., state epidemiologist at the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH), said the recognition is a major honor for DPH’s HAI team.

“Let me extend my congratulations and gratitude to Jeanne Negley and the team! I am tremendously proud of their accomplishments,” she said.

Negley, DPH’s health care-associated infections surveillance director, will share Georgia’s success and best practices in antibiotic stewardship in the CDC’s Vital Signs Town Hall Teleconference on Tues., March 11. The town halls, hosted for each of CDC’s Vital Signs reports, are intended to facilitate discussions among state and local health officials, health educators, and clinicians about the most recent CDC Vital Signs report. 

Led by DPH and the Georgia Healthcare Associated Infection Advisory Committee (GHAIAC) since 2009, Georgia has worked to increase awareness of antibiotic use among physicians and pharmacists and to train hospital staff on how to put antibiotic stewardship programs in place. In February, DPH and GHAIAC introduced the Georgia Honor Roll for Antibiotic Stewardship, a recognition program for hospitals that meet state goals for antibiotic stewardship programs.

The CDC recommended that hospitals begin taking similar steps to reduce antibiotic overuse. The center asked hospitals to implement antibiotic stewardship programs with the help of a seven-step checklist, including tracking prescribing, reporting resistance patterns and educating staff on proper antibiotic use.

Read more about Georgia’s work in antibiotic stewardship and health care-associated infection prevention in the CDC’s Vital Signs report