The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new recommendations Tuesday to help nursing homes combat antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
The agency's seven core elements urge education and observance to prevent the misuse of antibiotic drugs, which can in turn create diseases resistant to drugs.
The CDC says up to 75% of antibiotics prescribed in nursing homes are given incorrectly. That could mean the wrong drug, wrong dose or duration.
"Superbugs that are hard to treat pose a health risk to all Americans, particularly the elderly whose bodies don't fight infection as well,” CDC Director Tom Frieden wrote in a statement announcing the new guidelines.
The CDC said it would provide technical assistance to the VA and the Indian Health Service and other large health systems to help implement the guidelines.
AMDA - the Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine, which reviewed the elements and provided comment on them, released a statement Tuesday touting the recommendations .
"AMDA very much values the opportunity to provide the 'in-the-trenches' and the medical director perspective to the CDC Core Elements of Antibiotic Stewardship,” AMDA President Dr. Naushira Pandya said in the statement. “Working synergistically with the CDC and other national stakeholders will help to make viable antibiotic stewardship programs a reality."
Stewardship programs, meaning coordinated practices promoting the appropriate use of antibiotics, are part of the White House's five-year plan to identify outbreaks and develop new antibiotics.
Many healthcare organizations are following suit.
Earlier this month, Premier launched its own nationwide initiative.
The Charlotte, N.C.-based hospital performance and supply company took on the ambitious goal of reducing by 20% inappropriate intravenous use of antibiotic combinations. The program was launched in 50 hospitals in 24 states.
Premier and the CDC collaborated on research last year that found that unnecessary and duplicative antibiotic use in U.S. hospitals wasted about $163 million between 2008 and 2011. The study described this amount as “almost 2% of the total expenses for all U.S. hospitals for 2012” and noted that the actual amount “could be substantially higher.”
In November, the American Medical Association plans to release a report on antibiotic resistance. The AMA also plans to hold an education session to update physician leaders on the problem and to promote stewardship.