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Background: Antimicrobial stewardship programs (ASPs) seek to reduce the prevalence of antimicrobial-resistant and healthcare-associated infections. There are limited infectious disease (ID) physicians and pharmacists to support these ASPs, particularly in rural areas. The Veterans Health Administration has a robust telehealth program in place. Our previous work has demonstrated the feasibility of using telehealth modalities to support ASPs at rural Veterans Affairs medical centers (VAMCs) by pairing them with an ID expert from a larger, geographically distant, VAMC. This program, dubbed the Videoconference Antimicrobial Stewardship Team (VAST), emphasizes discussion of patients undergoing treatment for an active infection and additional relevant clinical topics with a multidisciplinary team at the rural VA. VAST implementation is ongoing at VAMCs. To understand and compare the qualitative differences in implementation, we used process maps to describe the VAST at 3 VAMC dyads. Methods: Team members from each dyad participated in interviews at 3, 6, and 9 months after beginning their VAST sessions. Questions addressed several aspects of VAST implementation and included identifying cases and topics to discuss; advance preparation for meetings; the frequency and general structure of VAST meetings; and documentation including workload capture. The research team used the responses to develop process maps to permit visual display and comparison of VAST implementation. Results: The first dyad began in January 2022 and the third in March 2022. The sessions had 3 phases: preparation, team meeting, and documentation of experts’ recommendations. Tasks were shared between VAST champions at the rural VAMC and the ID experts (Fig. 1). The preparation phase showed the most variation among the 3 dyads. In general, champions at the rural VA identified cases and topics for discussion that were sent to the ID expert for review. The approaches used to find cases and the type of preparatory work by the ID expert differed. Team meetings differed in both frequency and participation by professionals from the rural site. Documentation of expert recommendations processes appeared similar among the dyads. Discussion: Each of the 3 dyads implemented VAST differently. These results suggest that the overall structure of the VAST is readily adaptable and that each site tailored VAST to suit the clinical needs, workflow, and culture of their partner facility. Future work will seek to determine which aspects in the preparation, team meeting, or documentation phases are associated with successful ASPs, including assessment of quantitative and qualitative outcomes.
Background: Healthcare settings without access to infectious diseases experts may struggle to implement effective antibiotic stewardship programs. We previously described a successful pilot project using the Veterans Affairs (VA) telehealth system to form a Videoconference Antimicrobial Stewardship Team (VAST) that connected multidisciplinary teams from rural VA medical centers (VAMCs) with infectious diseases experts at geographically distant locations. VASTs discussed patients from the rural VAMC, with the overarching goal of supporting antibiotic stewardship. This project is currently ongoing. Here, we describe preliminary outcomes describing the cases discussed, recommendations made, and acceptance of those recommendations among 4 VASTs. Methods: Cases discussed at any of the 4 participating intervention sites were independently reviewed by study staff, noting the infectious disease diagnoses, recommendations made by infectious diseases experts and, when applicable, acceptance of those recommendations at the rural VAMC within 1 week. Discrepancies between independent reviewers were discussed and, when consensus could not be reached, discrepancies were discussed with an infectious diseases clinician. Results: The VASTs serving 4 different rural VAMCs discussed 96 cases involving 92 patients. Overall, infection of the respiratory tract was the most common syndrome discussed by VASTs (Fig. 1). The most common specific diagnoses among discussed cases were cellulitis (n = 11), acute cystitis (n = 11), wounds (n = 11), and osteomyelitis (n = 10). Of 172 recommendations, 41 (24%) related to diagnostic imaging or laboratory results and 38 (22%) were to change the antibiotic agent, dose, or duration (Fig. 2). Of the 151 recommendations that could be assessed via chart review, 122 (81%) were accepted within 1 week. Conclusions: These findings indicate successful implementation of telehealth to connect clinicians at rural VAMCs with an offsite infectious diseases expert. The cases represented an array of common infectious syndromes. The most frequent recommendations pertained to getting additional diagnostic information and to adjusting, but not stopping, antibiotic therapy. These results suggest that many of the cases discussed warrant antibiotics and that VASTs may use the results of diagnostic studies to tailor that therapy. The high rate of acceptance suggests that the VASTs are affecting patient care. Future work will describe VAST implementation at 4 additional VAMCs, and we will assess whether using telehealth to disseminate infectious diseases expertise to rural VAMCs supports changes in antibiotic use that align with principles of antimicrobial stewardship.
To evaluate the impact of a multicenter, try automated dashboard on ASP activities and its acceptance among ASP leaders.
Frontline stewards were asked to participate in semi-structured interviews before and after implementation of a web-based ASP information dashboard providing risk-adjusted benchmarking, longitudinal trends, and analysis of antimicrobial usage patterns at each facility.
The study was performed at Iowa City VA Health Care System.
ASP team members from nine medical centers in the VA Midwest Health Care Network (VISN 23).
Semi-structured interviews were conducted pre- and post-implementation, with interview guides informed by clinical experiences and the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research (CFIR). Participants evaluated the dashboard’s ease of use, applicability to ongoing ASP activities, perceived validity and reliability, and relative advantage over other ASP monitoring systems.
Compared to established stewardship data collection and reporting methods, participants found the dashboard more intuitive and accessible, allowing them to reduce dependence on other systems and staff to obtain and share data. Standardized and risk-adjusted rankings were largely accepted as a valuable benchmarking method; however, participants felt their facility’s characteristics significantly influenced the rankings’ validity. Participants recognized staffing, training, and uncertainty with using the dashboard as an intervention tool as barriers to consistent and comprehensive dashboard implementation.
Participants generally accepted the dashboard’s risk-adjusted metrics and appreciated its usability. While creating automated tools to rigorously benchmark antimicrobial use across hospitals can be helpful, the displayed metrics require further validation, and the longitudinal utility of the dashboard warrants additional study.
We assessed the implementation of telehealth-supported stewardship activities in acute-care units and long-term care (LTC) units in Veterans’ Administration medical centers (VAMCs).
Before-and-after, quasi-experimental implementation effectiveness study with a baseline period (2019–2020) and an intervention period (2021).
The study was conducted in 3 VAMCs without onsite infectious disease (ID) support.
The study included inpatient providers at participating sites who prescribe antibiotics.
During 2021, an ID physician met virtually 3 times per week with the stewardship pharmacist at each participating VAMC to review patients on antibiotics in acute-care units and LTC units. Real-time feedback on prescribing antibiotics was given to providers. Additional implementation strategies included stakeholder engagement, education, and quality monitoring.
The reach–effectiveness–adoption–implementation–maintenance (RE-AIM) framework was used for program evaluation. The primary outcome of effectiveness was antibiotic days of therapy (DOT) per 1,000 days present aggregated across all 3 sites. An interrupted time-series analysis was performed to compare this rate during the intervention and baseline periods. Electronic surveys, periodic reflections, and semistructured interviews were used to assess other RE-AIM outcomes.
The telehealth program reviewed 502 unique patients and made 681 recommendations to 24 providers; 77% of recommendations were accepted. After program initiation, antibiotic DOT immediately decreased in the LTC units (−30%; P < .01) without a significant immediate change in the acute-care units (+16%; P = .22); thereafter DOT remained stable in both settings. Providers generally appreciated feedback and collaborative discussions.
The implementation of our telehealth program was associated with reductions in antibiotic use in the LTC units but not in the smaller acute-care units. Overall, providers perceived the intervention as acceptable. Wider implementation of telehealth-supported stewardship activities may achieve reductions in antibiotic use.
Even though antimicrobial days of therapy did not significantly decrease during a period of robust stewardship activities at our center, we detected a significant downward trend in antimicrobial spectrum, as measured by days of antibiotic spectrum coverage (DASC). The DASC metric may help more broadly monitor the effect of stewardship activities.
The optimal metric for outpatient antimicrobial stewardship has not been well defined. The number of antibiotic prescriptions per clinic visit does not account for the therapeutic duration. We found only moderate association between prescription-based metrics and days-supplied–based metrics. Outpatient antibiotic consumption metrics should incorporate the duration of therapy.
To investigate factors that influence antibiotic prescribing decisions, we interviewed 49 antibiotic stewardship champions and stakeholders across 15 hospitals. We conducted thematic analysis and subcoding of decisional factors. We identified 31 factors that influence antibiotic prescribing decisions. These factors may help stewardship programs identify educational targets and design more effective interventions.
Background: Many urologists continue antibiotics after common urologic procedure beyond the timeframes recommended by professional guidelines. In this study, we sought to evaluate the association between postprocedural antibiotic use and patient outcomes. Methods: We identified all patients who underwent 1 of 3 urologic procedures (transurethral resection of bladder tumor [TURBT], transurethral resection of prostate [TURP], and ureteroscopy) within the Veterans’ Health Administration (VHA) between January 1, 2017, and June 30, 2021. A postprocedural antibiotic was any antibiotic potentially used for a urinary tract–related indication that was prescribed for administration after the day of the procedure. Outcomes were captured within 30 days of the procedure and included (1) return visits, defined as any emergency department or urgent care encounter or hospital readmission, and (2) Clostridium difficile infection (CDI), defined as a positive test for C. difficile and the prescription of an anti-CDI antibiotic. We used log-binomial models with risk adjustment to determine the association between postprocedural antibiotic use and outcomes. We constructed hospital-level observed-to-expected ratios for postprocedural antibiotic use, and we used these models to calculate the probability of each patient receiving postprocedural antibiotics. Results: Overall, we identified 74,629 patients; 98% were male; the mean age was 70 years (SD, 10). Among them, 50% underwent TURBT, 28% underwent TURP, and 23% underwent ureteroscopy. A postprocedural antibiotic was prescribed to 25,738 (35%) cases for a median duration of 3 days (IQR, 3–6). Return visits occurred in 13,489 patients (18%), and CDI occurred in 104 patients (0.1%). Patients exposed to postprocedural antibiotics had 16% more return visits (RR, 1.16; 95% CI, 1.13–1.20) and more than twice as much CDI (RR, 2.22; 95% CI, 1.51–3.26) than patients not exposed to postprocedural antibiotics. In log-binomial risk-adjusted analysis, the risk of return visits did not differ between the 2 groups (RR, 1.00; 95% CI, 0.97–1.04) but the risk of CDI was higher in patients who received post-procedural antibiotics (RR, 1.87; 95% CI, 1.00–3.51). Hospitals (n = 105) varied widely in their observed-to-expected ratios for prescribing postprocedural antibiotics, and the frequency of return visits was similar regardless of the frequency at which postprocedural antibiotics were prescribed (Table 1). Conclusions: Postprocedural antibiotics were prescribed beyond recommended intervals after more than one-third of common urologic procedures, with a large degree of variability across hospitals. The use of postprocedural antibiotics was not associated with fewer return visits but was associated with a nonsignificant increase in CDI risk. Efforts to reduce postprocedural antibiotics are needed.
Disclosures: This work was funded, in part, by the Merck Investigator Studies Program. This work was also supported by a Career Development Award (DJL) from the VA Health Services Research and Development Service (CDA 16-204) and by the Iowa City VA Health Care System, Department of Pharmacy Services.
Background: Antimicrobials are frequently used during end-of-life care and may be prescribed without a clear clinical indication. Overuse of antimicrobials is a major public health concern because of the development of multidrug resistant organisms (MDROs). Antimicrobial stewardship programs are associated with reductions in antibiotic resistance and antibiotic-associated adverse events. We sought to identify and describe opportunities to successfully incorporate stewardship strategies into end-of-life care. Methods: We completed semistructured interviews with 15 healthcare providers at 2 VA medical centers, 1 inpatient setting and 1 long-term care setting. Interviews were conducted via telephone between November 2020 and June 2021 and covered topics related to antibiotic prescribing for hospice and palliative-care patients, including how to improve antimicrobial stewardship during the end-of-life period. We targeted healthcare providers who are involved in prescribing antibiotics during the end-of-life period, including hospitalists, infectious disease physicians, palliative care and hospice physicians, and pharmacists. All interviews were recorded, transcribed, and analyzed using consensus-based inductive and deductive coding. Results: End-of-life care, particularly hospice care, was described as an underutilized resource for patients, who are often enrolled in their final days of life rather than earlier in the dying process. Even at facilities with established antimicrobial stewardship programs, healthcare providers interviewed believed that opportunities for antimicrobial stewardship in the hospice and palliative care settings were missed. Recommendations for how stewardship should be incorporated in end-of-life care included receiving feedback on antimicrobial prescribing, increasing pharmacist involvement in prescribing decisions, and targeted education for providers on end-of-life care, including the value of shared decision making with patients around antibiotic use. Conclusions: Improved antibiotic prescribing during end-of-life care is critical in the effort to combat antimicrobial resistance. Healthcare providers discussed antimicrobial stewardship activities during end-of-life patient care as a potential avenue to improve appropriate antibiotic prescribing. Future research should evaluate the feasibility and effectiveness of incorporating these strategies into end-of-life patient care.
Background: Antibiotic use during end-of-life (EOL) care is an increasingly important target for antimicrobial stewardship given the high prevalence of antibiotic use in this setting with limited evidence on safety and effectiveness to guide antibiotic decision making. We estimated antibiotic use during the last 6 months of life for patients under hospice or palliative care, and we identified potential targets (ie time points) during the EOL period when antimicrobial stewardship interventions could be targeted for maximal benefit. Methods: We conducted a retrospective cohort study of nationwide Veterans’ Affairs (VA) patients, 18 years and older who died between January 1, 2014, and December 31, 2019, and who had been hospitalized within 6 months prior to death. Data from the VA’s integrated electronic medical record (EMR) were collected including demographics, comorbid conditions, and duration of inpatient antibiotics administered, along with outpatient antibiotics dispensed. A propensity-score matched-cohort analysis was conducted to compare antibiotic use between patients placed into palliative care or hospice matched to patients not receiving palliative care or hospice care. Repeated measures ANOVA and repeated measures linear regression methods were used to analyze difference in difference (D-I-D) of days of therapy (DOT) between the 2 cohorts. Results: There were 251,822 patients in the cohort, including 23,746 in hospice care, 89,768 in palliative care, and 138,308 without palliative or hospice care. The median days from last discharge to death was 9 days. The most common comorbidities were chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (50%), malignancy (46%), and diabetes mellitus (43%). Overall, 18,296 (77%) of 23,746 hospice patients, and 71,812 (80%) of 89,768 palliative care patients received at least 1 antibiotic, whereas 95,167 (69%) of 138,308 who were not placed in hospice or did not receive palliative care received antibiotics. In the primary matched cohort analysis that compared patients placed into hospice or palliative care to propensity-score matched controls, entry into palliative care was associated with a 11% absolute increase in antibiotic prescribing, and entry into hospice was associated with a 4% absolute increase during the 7–14 days after entry versus the 7–14 days before entry (Fig. 1). The stratified cohorts had very similar balanced covariates as the overall cohort. Conclusions: In our large cohort study, we observed that patients receiving EOL care had high levels of antibiotic exposure across VA population, particularly on entry to hospice or during admissions when they received palliative care consultation. Future studies are needed to identify the optimal EOL strategies for collaboration between antimicrobial stewardship and palliative care.
Background: Antimicrobial stewardship programs (ASPs) are advised to audit antimicrobial consumption as a metric to feedback to clinicians. However, many ASPs lack the tools necessary for appropriate risk adjustment and standardized data collection, which are critical for peer-program benchmarking. We evaluated the impact of the dashboard deployment that displays these metrics and its acceptance among ASP members and antimicrobial prescribers. Materials/methods: We conducted semistructured interviews of ASP stewards and antimicrobial prescribers before and after implementation of a web-based ASP information dashboard (Fig. 1) implemented in the VA Midwest Health Care Network (VISN23). The dashboard provides risk-adjusted benchmarking, longitudinal trends, and analysis of antimicrobial usage patterns at each facility. Risk-adjusted benchmarking was based on an observed-to-expected comparison of antimicrobial days of therapy at each facility, after adjusting for differences in patient case mix and facility-level variables. Respondents were asked to evaluate several aspects of the dashboard, including its ease of use, applicability to ongoing ASP activities, perceived validity and reliability, and advantages compared to other ASP monitoring systems. All interviews were digitally recorded and transcribed verbatim. The analysis was conducted using MaxQDA 2020.4 and the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research (CFIR) constructs. Results: We completed 4 preimplementation interviews and 11 postimplementation interviews with ASP champions and antimicrobial prescribers from 6 medical centers. We derived 4 key themes from the data that map onto CFIR constructs. These themes were interconnected so that implementation of the dashboard (ie, adapting and adopting) was influenced by respondents’ perception of a facility’s size, patient population, and priority placed on stewardship (ie, structural and cultural context), the availability of dedicated stewardship staff and training needed to implement the dashboard (ie, resources needed), and how the dashboard compared to established stewardship activities (ie, relative advantage). ASP champions and antimicrobial prescribers indicated that dashboard metrics were useful for identifying antimicrobial usage and for comparing metrics among similar facilities. Respondents also specified barriers to acceptance of the risk-adjusted metric, such as disagreement regarding how antimicrobials were grouped by the current NHSN protocol, uncertainty of factors involved in risk adjustments, and difficulty developing a clear interpretation of hospital rankings. Conclusions: Given the limited resources for antimicrobial stewardship personnel, automated, risk-adjusted, antimicrobial-use dashboards provided by ASPs are an attractive method to both facilitate compliance and improve efficiency. To increase the uptake of surveillance systems in antimicrobial stewardship, our study highlights the need for clear descriptions of methods and metrics.
Background: Avoiding unnecessary antipseudomonal coverage is 1 of the most common targets for antibiotic stewardship programs (ASPs), but little is known about the magnitude of facility-level variation in antipseudomonal agent utilization. We aimed to describe the variability in the use of antipseudomonal agents across inpatient settings within a nationwide integrated healthcare system. Method: We analyzed the data from a retrospective cohort of patients who were admitted to acute-care hospitals within the VHA system in 2019. We defined antipseudomonal agents as systemic antibiotics with activity against wild-type Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and we evaluated overall and antipseudomonal antibiotic use among 129 hospitals, according to the agents described in the NHSN Antimicrobial Usage and Resistance Module. We calculated each hospital’s overall and antipseudomonal days of therapy (DOT) per 1,000 days present and the proportion of antipseudomonal agent usage among all antibiotics based on DOT at each hospital. Hospital-level variation was assessed by comparing the proportion of total antibiotic consumption accounted for by antipseudomonal agents. Associations between antipseudomonal proportions and overall antibiotic consumption were also assessed. Results: Among 129 VHA hospitals, the median DOT per 1,000 days present for all antibiotics was 434.4 (IQR, 371.9–487.1), and the median antipseudomonal DOT per 1,000 days present was 127.7 (IQR, 99.8–159.6). The median proportion of total antibiotic consumption accounted for by antipseudomonal agents was 30.0% (range, 14.9%–40.7%; IQR, 26.4%–34.4%) (Fig. 1). We detected only a weak correlation between overall antibiotic consumption and antipseudomonal proportion (Pearson correlation coefficient, 0.396), which suggests that hospitals with higher total antibiotic consumption were not necessarily using more antipseudomonal agents. In a stratified analysis, there was more prominent hospital-level variability in surgical specialties than medical specialties (Fig. 2). Conclusions: We detected high hospital-level variability in the consumption and proportion of antipseudomonal antibiotics among an integrated healthcare system. Although it is plausible that these variabilities originated from case-mix differences among hospitals, including differing rates of P. aeruginosa infections, it may also highlight opportunities for reducing antipseudomonal antibiotic utilization, especially among surgical specialties. Further studies are needed to evaluate the contribution of modifiable patient- and facility-level factors to this variability.
Background: The COVID-19 pandemic heavily affected healthcare delivery systems in the United States. However, little is known about its impact on overall antimicrobial consumption, especially in outpatient settings. We assessed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on antimicrobial consumption in both outpatient and inpatient (acute-care, long-term care, and mental health) settings in the Veterans’ Health Administration (VHA) during the 2 years before and after the start of the pandemic. Methods: We conducted a retrospective study for all patients who received care within the VHA from January 2018 to December 2021. We used antibiotic days as the primary outcome measure (days of therapy for inpatient settings and dispensed days supply for outpatient settings), and we obtained data for antimicrobial consumption from the VHA Corporate Data Warehouse. Antibiotics were categorized into classes by the NHSN protocol and included only systemic agents (oral and parenteral). We defined 2018–2019 as the prepandemic period and 2020–2021 as the pandemic period. We compared the relative and absolute difference in antibiotic consumption between the 2 periods. Results: Across all periods, 8.3 million patients received care in the VHA, and an average of 28,709,680 antibiotic days were prescribed per year. Overall, 92.9% of all antibiotic days were outpatient and 7.1% were inpatient. Total antibiotic days during the pandemic period decreased by 12.4% compared to the prepandemic period (pandemic period: 53,613,840 and prepandemic period: 61,224,878). This reduction was primarily driven by reductions in outpatient settings (relative reduction: 12.7% and absolute reduction: 7,254,880 antibiotic days over 2 years), but antibiotic days in inpatient settings decreased more modestly (relative reduction: 8.4% and absolute reduction: 356,158 antibiotic days over 2 years) (Fig. 1). When frequently prescribed antimicrobials were categorized by classes, fluoroquinolones and lincosamides showed the largest decreases (fluoroquinolones: 29.2% reduction and lincosamides: 27.2% reduction). Tetracyclines and sulfamethoxazole–trimethoprim had the smallest reductions (5.2% and 11.2%, respectively). Conclusions: Compared to the prepandemic period, the pandemic was associated with a substantial reduction in overall antibiotic consumption, especially in outpatient settings, which accounted for 95% of the overall reduction despite being outside the domain of most traditional antibiotic stewardship programs. The impact of the pandemic was most modest in the use of tetracyclines and trimethoprim–sulfamethoxazole and was most prominent in the use of fluoroquinolones and lincosamides. Further studies are required to improve the causal inference between the COVID-19 pandemic and this reduction in antibiotic consumption, as well as its impact on patient outcomes.
We aimed to decrease the use of outpatient parenteral antimicrobial therapy (OPAT) for patients admitted for bone and joint infections (BJIs) by applying a consensus protocol to suggest oral antibiotics for BJI.
A quasi-experimental before-and-after study.
Inpatient setting at a single medical center.
All inpatients admitted with a BJI.
We developed a consensus table of oral antibiotics for BJI among infectious diseases (ID) specialists. Using the consensus table, we implemented a protocol consisting of a weekly reminder e-mail and case-based discussion with the consulting ID physician. Outcomes of patients during the implementation period (November 1, 2020, to May 31, 2021) were compared with those during the preimplementation period (January 1, 2019, to October 31, 2020). Our primary outcome was the proportion of patients treated with OPAT. Secondary outcomes included length of hospital stay (LOS) and recurrence or death within 6 months.
In total, 77 patients during the preimplementation period and 22 patients during the implementation period were identified to have a BJI. During the preimplementation period, 70.1% of patients received OPAT, whereas only 31.8% of patients had OPAT during the implementation period (P = .003). The median LOS after final ID recommendation was significantly shorter during the implementation period (median 3 days versus 1 day; P < .001). We detected no significant difference in the 6-month rate of recurrence (24.7% vs 31.8%; P = .46) or mortality (9.1% vs 9.1%; P = 1.00).
More patients admitted with BJIs were treated with oral antibiotics during the implementation phase of our quality improvement initiative.
We evaluated antibiotic-prescribing across 111 mental health units in the Veterans’ Health Administration. We found that accurate diagnosis of urinary tract infections is a major area for improvement. Because non–mental-health clinicians were involved in most antibiotic-prescribing decisions, stewardship interventions for mental health patients should have a broad target audience to be effective.
Efforts to improve antimicrobial prescribing are occurring within a changing healthcare landscape, which includes the expanded use of telehealth technology. The wider adoption of telehealth presents both challenges and opportunities for promoting antimicrobial stewardship. Telehealth provides 2 avenues for remote infectious disease (ID) specialists to improve inpatient antimicrobial prescribing: telehealth-supported antimicrobial stewardship and tele-ID consultations. Those 2 activities can work separately or synergistically. Studies on telehealth-supported antimicrobial stewardship have reported a reduction in inpatient antimicrobial prescribing, cost savings related to less antimicrobial use, a decrease in Clostridioides difficile infections, and improved antimicrobial susceptibility patterns for common organisms. Tele-ID consultation is associated with fewer hospital transfers, a shorter length of hospital stay, and decreased mortality. The implementation of these activities can be flexible depending on local needs and available resources, but several barriers may be encountered. Opportunities also exist to improve antimicrobial use in outpatient settings. Telehealth provides a more rapid mechanism for conducting outpatient ID consultations, and increasing use of telehealth for routine and urgent outpatient visits present new challenges for antimicrobial stewardship. In primary care, urgent care, and emergency care settings, unnecessary antimicrobial use for viral acute respiratory tract infections is common during telehealth encounters, as is the case for fact-to-face encounters. For some diagnoses, such as otitis media and pharyngitis, antimicrobials are further overprescribed via telehealth. Evidence is still lacking on the optimal stewardship strategies to improve antimicrobial prescribing during telehealth encounters in ambulatory care, but conventional outpatient stewardship strategies are likely transferable. Further work is warranted to fill this knowledge gap.
To evaluate the frequency of antibiotic prescribing for common infections via telemedicine compared to face-to-face visits.
Systematic literature review and meta-analysis.
We searched PubMed, CINAHL, Embase (Elsevier platform) and Cochrane CENTRAL to identify studies comparing frequency of antibiotic prescribing via telemedicine and face-to-face visits without restrictions by publish dates or language used. We conducted meta-analyses of 5 infections: sinusitis, pharyngitis, otitis media, upper respiratory infection (URI) and urinary tract infection (UTI). Random-effect models were used to obtain pooled odds ratios (ORs). Heterogeneity was evaluated with I2 estimation and the Cochran Q statistic test.
Among 3,106 studies screened, 23 studies (1 randomized control study, 22 observational studies) were included in the systematic literature review. Most of the studies (21 of 23) were conducted in the United States. Studies were substantially heterogenous, but stratified analyses revealed that providers prescribed antibiotics more frequently via telemedicine for otitis media (pooled odds ratio [OR], 1.26; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.04–1.52; I2 = 31%) and pharyngitis (pooled OR, 1.16; 95% CI, 1.01–1.33; I2 = 0%). We detected no significant difference in the frequencies of antibiotic prescribing for sinusitis (pooled OR, 0.86; 95% CI, 0.70–1.06; I2 = 91%), URI (pooled OR, 1.18; 95% CI, 0.59–2.39; I2 = 100%), or UTI (pooled OR, 2.57; 95% CI, 0.88–7.46; I2 = 91%).
Telemedicine visits for otitis media and pharyngitis were associated with higher rates of antibiotic prescribing. The interpretation of these findings requires caution due to substantial heterogeneity among available studies. Large-scale, well-designed studies with comprehensive assessment of antibiotic prescribing for common outpatient infections comparing telemedicine and face-to-face visits are needed to validate our findings.
Group Name: VHA Center for Antimicrobial Stewardship and Prevention of Antimicrobial Resistance (CASPAR) Background: Antimicrobial stewardship programs (ASPs) are advised to measure antimicrobial consumption as a metric for audit and feedback. However, most ASPs lack the tools necessary for appropriate risk adjustment and standardized data collection, which are critical for peer-program benchmarking. We created a system that automatically extracts antimicrobial use data and patient-level factors for risk-adjustment and a dashboard to present risk-adjusted benchmarking metrics for ASP within the Veterans’ Health Administration (VHA). Methods: We built a system to extract patient-level data for antimicrobial use, procedures, demographics, and comorbidities for acute inpatient and long-term care units at all VHA hospitals utilizing the VHA’s Corporate Data Warehouse (CDW). We built baseline negative binomial regression models to perform risk-adjustments based on patient- and unit-level factors using records dated between October 2016 and September 2018. These models were then leveraged both retrospectively and prospectively to calculate observed-to-expected ratios of antimicrobial use for each hospital and for specific units within each hospital. Data transformation and applications of risk-adjustment models were automatically performed within the CDW database server, followed by monthly scheduled data transfer from the CDW to the Microsoft Power BI server for interactive data visualization. Frontline antimicrobial stewards at 10 VHA hospitals participated in the project as pilot users. Results: Separate baseline risk-adjustment models to predict days of therapy (DOT) for all antibacterial agents were created for acute-care and long-term care units based on 15,941,972 patient days and 3,011,788 DOT between October 2016 and September 2018 at 134 VHA hospitals. Risk adjustment models include month, unit types (eg, intensive care unit [ICU] vs non-ICU for acute care), specialty, age, gender, comorbidities (50 and 30 factors for acute care and long-term care, respectively), and preceding procedures (45 and 24 procedures for acute care and long-term care, respectively). We created additional models for each antimicrobial category based on National Healthcare Safety Network definitions. For each hospital, risk-adjusted benchmarking metrics and a monthly ranking within the VHA system were visualized and presented to end users through the dashboard (an example screenshot in Figure 1). Conclusions: Developing an automated surveillance system for antimicrobial consumption and risk-adjustment benchmarking using an electronic medical record data warehouse is feasible and can potentially provide valuable tools for ASPs, especially at hospitals with no or limited local informatics expertise. Future efforts will evaluate the effectiveness of dashboards in these settings.
Background: Hospitals are required to have antibiotic stewardship programs (ASPs), but there are few models for implementing ASPs without the support of an infectious disease (ID) specialist, defined as an ID physician and/or ID pharmacist. In this study, we sought to understand ASP implementation at hospitals within the Veterans’ Health Administration (VHA) that lack on-site ID support. Methods: Using a mandatory 2016 VHA survey, we identified acute-care hospitals that lacked an on-site ID specialist. For each hospital, antibiotic use (2018–2019) was quantified as days of therapy (DOT) per 1,000 days present, based on NHSN methodology for tracking all antibacterial agents. From July 2019 through April 2020, we conducted semistructured interviews with personnel involved in or affected by ASP activities at 7 qualifying hospitals. All interview transcripts were analyzed using thematic content analysis. Results: Of the 7 acute-care hospitals, 6 (86%) had a long-term care unit; 3 (43%) had an intensive care unit; and 2 (29%) had full-time employment equivalents dedicated to stewardship. Sites averaged 1,075 (SD, ±654) and 148 (SD, ±96) admissions per year in acute-care and long-term care, respectively. At the site-level, mean antibiotic use was 486 DOT (SD, ±98) per 1,000 days-present in acute-care and 207 DOT (SD, ±74) per 1,000 days present in long-term care. We interviewed 42 personnel across the 7 sites. Although sites reported using similar interventions to promote antibiotic stewardship, the shape of these interventions varied. The following 4 common themes were identified: (1) The primary responsibility for ASPs fell on the pharmacist champions, who were typically assigned multiple other non-ASP responsibilities. (2) The pharmacist champions were more successful at gaining buy-in for stewardship initiatives when they had established rapport with clinicians, but at some sites, the use of contract physicians and frequent staff turnover were potential barriers. (3) Some sites felt that having access to an off-site ID specialist was important for overcoming institutional barriers to stewardship and improving the acceptance of their stewardship interventions. (4) In general, stewardship champions struggled to mobilize institutional resources, which made it difficult to advance their programmatic goals. Conclusions: In this study of 7 hospitals without local ID support, we found that ASPs are largely a pharmacy-driven process. Remote ID support, if available, was seen as helpful for implementing stewardship interventions. These findings may inform the future implementation of ASPs in settings lacking local ID expertise.