Edward-Elmhurst team targets drug-resistant germs

September 06, 2016 | by Edward-Elmhurst Health
Categories: Healthy Driven Heroes

A program at Edward-Elmhurst Health looking at inpatient antibiotic use and its effects on drug-resistant germs is leading to better patient outcomes and savings in healthcare costs.

Drug-resistant organisms have become a global crisis in the last 10 years. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) describes antibiotic resistance as "one of the world's most pressing health threats."

Drug-resistant germs cause more than 2 million infections and more than 23,000 deaths in the U.S. each year. The CDC, together with the Joint Commission, is requiring all healthcare facilities to implement an Antimicrobial Stewardship Program (ASP) by January 2017 to improve how antibiotics are being prescribed.

Why is this happening? The primary cause is antibiotic overuse, both inpatient and outpatient. This has also led to the surge of Clostridium difficile infection (CDI), a potentially deadly diarrheal infection.

ASPs were put in place at both Edward and Elmhurst Hospitals well before the 2017 deadline. At Edward-Elmhurst Health, Nick Van Hise, Pharm.D., infectious diseases clinical pharmacist, leads the stewardship program, along with Jonathan Pinsky, M.D., Edward Hospital and Dave Beezhold, M.D., Elmhurst Hospital, medical directors of infection control at their respective hospitals.

"We also received a lot of support from the hospital leadership, which is key to a program like this being successful," says Van Hise.

Through education and revised hospital protocols, the team has decreased mortality and lengths of stay, while saving more than $3 million in healthcare costs.

"These efforts have led to changes that include how the antibiotic Levaquin is used,” says Van Hise. “Levaquin has been one of the top 10 prescribed drugs in the U.S., leading to increased resistance and ineffectiveness. At Edward-Elmhurst, the use has decreased tenfold and is only used for targeted infections. This drug has been replaced with less expensive and more effective antibiotics.”

Antimicrobial stewardship is about improving outcomes, decreasing costs and preventing hospital-acquired infections. Van Hise and colleagues recently published a study in the peer-reviewed journal, Clinical Infectious Diseases, that showed they were able to significantly prevent C. difficile in high-risk patients.

Edward-Elmhurst is one of the first hospital systems in the country to adopt this practice to prevent C. difficile.

Says Van Hise, "If new protocols like this can be adopted by other hospitals in the U.S. for one of the most common infections in the world, this will be a game-changer."

Learn more about infection prevention at Edward-Elmhurst Health.

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