The Joint Commission will now require ambulatory care centers to have antimicrobial stewardship programs to maintain accreditation.
The new standards, which will go into effect Jan. 1, will impact outpatient facilities that "routinely prescribe antimicrobial medications," according to a commission report. The requirements are in line with similar standards the Joint Commission has for hospitals and nursing homes. Antimicrobial stewardship programs are used to mitigate antibiotic misuse which leads to antibiotic resistance. The CMS requires hospitals and nursing homes to have such programs for Medicare participation.
There are five new requirements outpatient facilities must now follow from the Joint Commission:
- Picking an individual responsible for developing and monitoring appropriate prescribing practices.
- Creating at least one goal each year related to antimicrobial stewardship.
- Using evidence-based guidelines to complete the goal.
- Educating staff and licensed independent practitioners on the organization's goal and appropriate prescribing practices.
- Collecting and analyzing data related to antimicrobial stewardship.
In its report detailing the new standards, the Joint Commission said assigning an individual dedicated to antimicrobial stewardship activities "demonstrates an organizational commitment" to the effort. It can be the staff member's primary job or an additional responsibility.
In terms of an annual goal outpatient providers must make, the commission suggests reviewing prescribing patterns and national data to identify areas for improvement. Examples of goals the Joint Commission offers are decreasing use of antibiotics for viral infections and addressing overuse of a specific drug.
The Joint Commission emphasized the goal needs to be based on evidence-based guidelines to "help ensure that patients who need antibiotics receive them while those without an indication do not."
Educating clinical staff on the organization's antimicrobial stewardship program will help patients, according to the commission. Informed staff will be able to offer clear recommendations to patients and explain why certain interventions aren't happening.
Finally, the commission will require data collection to ensure the organization can evaluate whether or not its antimicrobial stewardship program is working. The data collection can be electronic or manual.