Improving the use of antimicrobials is an important patient safety and public health issue as well as a national priority. Antibiotic use is the most important modifiable driver of antibiotic resistance, and antibiotic-resistant infections lead to higher healthcare costs, poor health outcomes, and more toxic treatments. At least 30% of antibiotic courses are unnecessary, and most of the unnecessary use is for acute respiratory conditions, such as colds, bronchitis, sore throats caused by viruses, and even some sinus and ear infections.
In 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released the Core Elements of Outpatient Antibiotic Stewardship, a framework for antibiotic stewardship for outpatient clinicians and facilities. The Core Elements document identifies key structural and functional aspects of effective programs. The four core elements are:
- Commitment: Demonstrate dedication to and accountability for optimizing antibiotic prescribing and patient safety
- Action for Policy and Practice: Implement at least one policy or practice to improve antibiotic prescribing, assess whether it is working, and modify as needed
- Tracking and Reporting: Monitor antibiotic prescribing practices and offer regular feedback to clinicians, or have clinicians assess their own antibiotic prescribing practices themselves.
- Education and Expertise: Provide educational resources to clinicians and patients on antibiotic prescribing, and ensure access to needed expertise on optimizing antibiotic prescribing.
Page last reviewed and updated: March 2022