An estimated 30% of the 154 million antibiotics prescribed in doctors’ offices and emergency departments in 2010-2011 may have been inappropriate, according to a study by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researchers published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association. “Therefore, a 15% reduction in overall antibiotic use would be necessary to meet the White House National Action Plan for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria goal of reducing inappropriate antibiotic use in the outpatient setting by 50% by 2020,” the authors conclude. Most of the inappropriate prescriptions were for respiratory conditions caused by viruses, which do not respond to antibiotics. In an AHASTAT blog post on the study, AHA Chief Medical Officer John Combes, M.D., notes that 65% of hospitals had an antimicrobial stewardship program last year, up from 45% in 2010. “While there is still a ways to go, this shows real progress,” he said. The AHA’s Physician Leadership Forum offers an antibiotic stewardship toolkit to help hospitals and health systems enhance their antimicrobial stewardship programs.

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