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Antibiotics are overprescribed for acute respiratory tract infections (ARIs). Guidelines provide criteria to determine which patients should receive antibiotics. We assessed congruence between documentation of ARI diagnostic and treatment practices with guideline recommendations, treatment appropriateness, and outcomes.
A multicenter quality improvement evaluation was conducted in 28 Veterans Affairs facilities. We included visits for pharyngitis, rhinosinusitis, bronchitis, and upper respiratory tract infections (URI-NOS) that occurred during the 2015–2016 winter season. A manual record review identified complicated cases, which were excluded. Data were extracted for visits meeting criteria, followed by analysis of practice patterns, guideline congruence, and outcomes.
Of 5,740 visits, 4,305 met our inclusion criteria: pharyngitis (n = 558), rhinosinusitis (n = 715), bronchitis (n = 1,155), URI-NOS (n = 1,475), or mixed diagnoses (>1 ARI diagnosis) (n = 402). Antibiotics were prescribed in 68% of visits: pharyngitis (69%), rhinosinusitis (89%), bronchitis (86%), URI-NOS (37%), and mixed diagnosis (86%). Streptococcal diagnostic testing was performed in 33% of pharyngitis visits; group A Streptococcus was identified in 3% of visits. Streptococcal tests were ordered less frequently for patients who received antibiotics (28%) than those who did not receive antibiotics 44%; P < .01). Although 68% of visits for rhinosinusitis had documentation of symptoms, only 32% met diagnostic criteria for antibiotics. Overall, 39% of patients with uncomplicated ARIs received appropriate antibiotic management. The proportion of 30-day return visits for ARI care was similar for appropriate (11%) or inappropriate (10%) antibiotic management (P = .22).
Antibiotics were prescribed in most uncomplicated ARI visits, indicating substantial overuse. Practice was frequently discordant with guideline diagnostic and treatment recommendations.
To examine variation in antibiotic coverage and detection of resistant pathogens in community-onset pneumonia.
A total of 128 hospitals in the Veterans Affairs health system.
Hospitalizations with a principal diagnosis of pneumonia from 2009 through 2010.
We examined proportions of hospitalizations with empiric antibiotic coverage for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Pseudomonas aeruginosa (PAER) and with initial detection in blood or respiratory cultures. We compared lowest- versus highest-decile hospitals, and we estimated adjusted probabilities (AP) for patient- and hospital-level factors predicting coverage and detection using hierarchical regression modeling.
Among 38,473 hospitalizations, empiric coverage varied widely across hospitals (MRSA lowest vs highest, 8.2% vs 42.0%; PAER lowest vs highest, 13.9% vs 44.4%). Detection rates also varied (MRSA lowest vs highest, 0.5% vs 3.6%; PAER lowest vs highest, 0.6% vs 3.7%). Whereas coverage was greatest among patients with recent hospitalizations (AP for anti-MRSA, 54%; AP for anti-PAER, 59%) and long-term care (AP for anti-MRSA, 60%; AP for anti-PAER, 66%), detection was greatest in patients with a previous history of a positive culture (AP for MRSA, 7.9%; AP for PAER, 11.9%) and in hospitals with a high prevalence of the organism in pneumonia (AP for MRSA, 3.9%; AP for PAER, 3.2%). Low hospital complexity and rural setting were strong negative predictors of coverage but not of detection.
Hospitals demonstrated widespread variation in both coverage and detection of MRSA and PAER, but probability of coverage correlated poorly with probability of detection. Factors associated with empiric coverage (eg, healthcare exposure) were different from those associated with detection (eg, microbiology history). Providing microbiology data during empiric antibiotic decision making could better align coverage to risk for resistant pathogens and could promote more judicious use of broad-spectrum antibiotics.
To detail the activities of the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Antimicrobial Stewardship Initiative and evaluate outcomes of the program.
The VHA is a large integrated healthcare system serving approximately 6 million individuals annually at more than 140 medical facilities.
Utilization of nationally developed resources, proportional distribution of antibiotics, changes in stewardship practices and patient safety measures were reported. In addition, inpatient antimicrobial use was evaluated before and after implementation of national stewardship activities.
Nationally developed stewardship resources were well utilized, and many stewardship practices significantly increased, including development of written stewardship policies at 92% of facilities by 2015 (P<.05). While the proportional distribution of antibiotics did not change, inpatient antibiotic use significantly decreased after VHA Antimicrobial Stewardship Initiative activities began (P<.0001). A 12% decrease in antibiotic use was noted overall. The VHA has also noted significantly declining use of antimicrobials prescribed for resistant Gram-negative organisms, including carbapenems, as well as declining hospital readmission and mortality rates. Concurrently, the VHA reported decreasing rates of Clostridium difficile infection.
The VHA National Antimicrobial Stewardship Initiative includes continuing education, disease-specific guidelines, and development of example policies in addition to other highly utilized resources. While no specific ideal level of antimicrobial utilization has been established, the VHA has shown that improving antimicrobial usage in a large healthcare system may be achieved through national guidance and resources with local implementation of antimicrobial stewardship programs.
Antimicrobial stewardship programs (ASPs) are variably implemented.
To characterize variations of antimicrobial stewardship structure and practices across all inpatient Veterans Affairs facilities in 2012 and correlate key characteristics with antimicrobial usage.
A web-based survey regarding stewardship activities was administered to each facility’s designated contact. Bivariate associations between facility characteristics and inpatient antimicrobial use during 2012 were determined.
Total of 130 Veterans Affairs facilities with inpatient services.
Of 130 responding facilities, 29 (22%) had a formal policy establishing an ASP, and 12 (9%) had an approved ASP business plan. Antimicrobial stewardship teams were present in 49 facilities (38%); 34 teams included a clinical pharmacist with formal infectious diseases (ID) training. Stewardship activities varied across facilities, including development of yearly antibiograms (122 [94%]), formulary restrictions (120 [92%]), stop orders for antimicrobial duration (98 [75%]), and written clinical pathways for specific conditions (96 [74%]). Decreased antimicrobial usage was associated with having at least 1 full-time ID physician (P=.03), an ID fellowship program (P=.003), and a clinical pharmacist with formal ID training (P=.006) as well as frequency of systematic patient-level reviews of antimicrobial use (P=.01) and having a policy to address antimicrobial use in the context of Clostridium difficile infection (P=.01). Stop orders for antimicrobial duration were associated with increased use (P=.03).
ASP-related activities varied considerably. Decreased antibiotic use appeared related to ID presence and certain select practices. Further statistical assessments may help optimize antimicrobial practices.
In the early 1950s, Lancefield divided streptococci into groups based on carbohydrates present in the cell wall and designated the groups A through H and K through T. In addition, streptococci may be classified by their characteristics on culture on sheep blood agar. β-Hemolytic streptococci produce zones of clear hemolysis around each colony; α-hemolytic streptococci (Streptococcus viridans) produce a green discoloration characteristic of incomplete hemolysis; absence of hemolysis is characteristic of γ-streptococci.
The sole member of Lancefield group A is Streptococcus pyogenes. Group A streptococcus is ubiquitous in the environment but with rare exceptions is exclusively found in or on the human host. About 5% to 20% of the population harbor group A streptococcus in their pharynx, and some are colonized on their skin. This organism produces a variety of suppurative infections; however, streptococcal pharyngitis, the most common, is characterized by the onset of sore throat, fever, painful swallowing, and chilliness. These symptoms combined with submandibular adenopathy, pharyngeal erythema, and exudates correlate with positive throat cultures in 85% to 90% of cases. Sore throat without fever or any of the other signs and symptoms has a low predictive value for pharyngitis caused by group A streptococcus. Rapid strep tests correlate with positive cultures in 68% to 99% of cases, but results depend greatly on the individual performing the test as well as the bacterial colony count. Colony counts greater than 100 per plate correlated with positive rapid strep tests in 95% of patients, and counts less than 100 per plate correlated with positive rapid strep tests for only 68% of patients.
Development of a numerical score to measure the microbial spectrum of antibiotic regimens (spectrum score) and method to identify antibiotic de-escalation events based on application of the score.
Web-based modified Delphi method.
Physician and pharmacist antimicrobial stewards practicing in the United States recruited through infectious diseases–focused listservs.
Three Delphi rounds investigated: organisms and antibiotics to include in the spectrum score, operationalization of rules for the score, and de-escalation measurement. A 4-point ordinal scale was used to score antibiotic susceptibility for organism-antibiotic domain pairs. Antibiotic regimen scores, which represented combined activity of antibiotics in a regimen across all organism domains, were used to compare antibiotic spectrum administered early (day 2) and later (day 4) in therapy. Changes in spectrum score were calculated and compared with Delphi participants’ judgments on de-escalation with 20 antibiotic regimen vignettes and with non-Delphi steward judgments on de-escalation of 300 pneumonia regimen vignettes. Method sensitivity and specificity to predict expert de-escalation status were calculated.
Twenty-four participants completed all Delphi rounds. Expert support for concepts utilized in metric development was identified. For vignettes presented in the Delphi, the sign of change in score correctly classified de-escalation in all vignettes except those involving substitution of oral antibiotics. The sensitivity and specificity of the method to identify de-escalation events as judged by non-Delphi stewards were 86.3% and 96.0%, respectively.
Identification of de-escalation events based on an algorithm that measures microbial spectrum of antibiotic regimens generally agreed with steward judgments of de-escalation status.
Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol 2014;35(9):1103-1113
To estimate avoidable intravenous (IV) fluoroquinolone use in Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals.
A retrospective analysis of bar code medication administration (BCMA) data.
Acute care wards of 128 VA hospitals throughout the United States.
Data were analyzed for all medications administered on acute care wards between January 1, 2006, and December 31, 2010. Patient-days receiving therapy were expressed as fluoroquinolone-days (FD) and divided into intravenous (IV; all doses administered intravenously) and oral (PO; at least one dose administered per os) FD. We assumed IV fluoroquinolone use to be potentially avoidable on a given IV FD when there was at least 1 other medication administered via the enteral route.
Over the entire study period, 884,740 IV and 830,572 PO FD were administered. Overall, avoidable IV fluoroquinolone use accounted for 46.8% of all FD and 90.9% of IV FD. Excluding the first 2 days of all IV fluoroquinolone courses and limiting the analysis to the non-ICU setting yielded more conservative estimates of avoidable IV use: 20.9% of all FD and 45.9% of IV FD. Avoidable IV use was more common for levofloxacin and more frequent in the ICU setting. There was a moderate correlation between avoidable IV FD and total systemic antibiotic use (r = 0.32).
Unnecessary IV fluoroquinolone use seems to be common in the VA system, but important variations exist between facilities. Antibiotic stewardship programs could focus on this patient safety issue as a “low-hanging fruit” to increase awareness of appropriate antibiotic use.
In the early 1950s, Lancefield divided streptococci into groups based on carbohydrates present in the cell wall and designated the groups A through H and K through T. In addition, streptococci may be classified by their characteristics on culture on sheep blood agar. β-Hemolytic streptococci produce zones of clear hemolysis around each colony; α-hemolytic streptococci (Strepococcus viridans) produce a green discoloration characteristic of incomplete hemolysis; absence of hemolysis is characteristic of γ-streptococci.
The sole member of Lancefield group A is Streptococcus pyogenes. Group A streptococcus is ubiquitous in the environment but with rare exceptions is exclusively found in or on the human host. About 5% to 20% of the population harbor group A streptococcus in their pharynx, and some are colonized on their skin. This organism produces a variety of suppurative infections; however, streptococcal pharyngitis, the most common, is characterized by the onset of sore throat, fever, painful swallowing, and chilliness. These symptoms combined with submandibular adenopathy, pharyngeal erythema, and exudates correlate with positive throat cultures in 85% to 90% of cases. Sore throat without fever or any of the other signs and symptoms has a low predictive value for pharyngitis caused by group A streptococcus. Rapid strep tests correlate with positive cultures in 68% to 99% of cases, but results depend greatly on the individual performing the test as well as the bacterial colony count.
Society for Health Care Epidemiology guidelines recommend decreasing the use of fluoroquinolone antibiotics in institutions where methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is endemic. We evaluated whether an intervention to limit fluoroquinolone use was associated with a lower rate of nosocomial MRSA infection and summarized changes in antibiotic use, changes in other variables potentially correlated with a lower rate of MRSA infection, and rates of nosocomial infections due to other pathogens.
Single-center quasi-experimental design. A time series of nosocomial MRSA infections was measured at monthly intervals from July 2001 through June of 2004; there were 80 MRSA infections recorded. Segmented regression analysis (ie, quasi-Poisson generalized linear models) was used to evaluate variables possibly associated with the nosocomial MRSA infection rate.
An 87-bed Veterans Affairs teaching hospital with an extended-care facility.
A physician-directed computer-generated intervention designed to limit the use of fluoroquinolone antibiotics was initiated, and institutional changes in antibiotic use and nosocomial MRSA infection rates were tracked.
After the intervention, fluoroquinolone use decreased by approximately 34%, and levofloxacin use decreased by approximately 50%. Decreased fluoroquinolone use was offset by increased cephalosporin, piperacillin-tazobactam, and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole use. The nosocomial MRSA infection rate decreased from 1.37 to 0.63 episodes per 1,000 patient-days after the study intervention (P = .02). Coagulase-negative Staphylococcus and Enterococcus infection rates also decreased. However, the rate of infection with gram-negative organisms increased. The rate of MRSA infection was positively correlated with levofloxacin use (P = .01) and azithromycin use (P = .08), whereas it was negatively correlated with summer season (P = .05). In a subsequent model, the rate of MRSA infection was negatively correlated with the study intervention (P = .04).
Reduction in the institutional use of fluoroquinolones may be associated with a lower nosocomial MRSA infection rate.
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