Interventions to improve antibiotic prescribing practices for hospital inpatients

Davey, P. et al. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2017, Issue 2. Art. No.: CD003543.

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Image source: Cochrane

Background: Antibiotic resistance is a major public health problem. Infections caused by multidrug-resistant bacteria are associated with prolonged hospital stay and death compared with infections caused by susceptible bacteria. Appropriate antibiotic use in hospitals should ensure effective treatment of patients with infection and reduce unnecessary prescriptions. We updated this systematic review to evaluate the impact of interventions to improve antibiotic prescribing to hospital inpatients.

Objectives: To estimate the effectiveness and safety of interventions to improve antibiotic prescribing to hospital inpatients and to investigate the effect of two intervention functions: restriction and enablement.

Authors’ conclusions:  We found high-certainty evidence that interventions are effective in increasing compliance with antibiotic policy and reducing duration of antibiotic treatment. Lower use of antibiotics probably does not increase mortality and likely reduces length of stay. Additional trials comparing antibiotic stewardship with no intervention are unlikely to change our conclusions. Enablement consistently increased the effect of interventions, including those with a restrictive component. Although feedback further increased intervention effect, it was used in only a minority of enabling interventions. Interventions were successful in safely reducing unnecessary antibiotic use in hospitals, despite the fact that the majority did not use the most effective behaviour change techniques. Consequently, effective dissemination of our findings could have considerable health service and policy impact. Future research should instead focus on targeting treatment and assessing other measures of patient safety, assess different stewardship interventions, and explore the barriers and facilitators to implementation. More research is required on unintended consequences of restrictive interventions.

Read the full review here

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