Antimicrobial stewardship: bridging the gap between quality care and cost

Curr Opin Infect Dis. 2011 Feb;24 Suppl 1:S11-20. doi: 10.1097/01.qco.0000393484.17894.05.


Purpose of review: Antibiotic resistance continues to rise, whereas development of new agents to counter it has slowed. A heightened need exists to maintain the effectiveness of currently available agents. This review focuses on the need for better antimicrobial stewardship, expected benefits of well designed antimicrobial stewardship programs (ASPs), and provides suggestions for development of an effective ASP.

Recent findings: Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) are a significant cause of poor treatment outcomes and elevated healthcare and societal costs worldwide. HAIs are often caused by antibiotic-resistant pathogens; overuse of antibiotics has been linked with antibiotic resistance. Benefits of improved antimicrobial stewardship include reduced emergence of antibiotic resistance, limitation of drug-related adverse events, minimization of other consequences of antibiotic use (e.g., superinfection), and reduction of societal and healthcare-related costs. In 2007, the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) and the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA) provided guidelines for the development of institutional programs to enhance antimicrobial stewardship. Experiences at The Ohio State University Medical Center (OSUMC) reinforce this message, while providing specific examples of ways to optimize ASP development and implementation. The focus of an ASP should be on improving quality of care, reducing drug resistance, and cost savings. When implementing an ASP, it is important to identify those most likely to resist the ASP, understand their concerns, and develop easy-to-understand messages that address these concerns and highlight the benefits of the proposed changes. Antibiograms play a key role in identifying local and interdepartmental trends in antibiotic susceptibility or resistance. These data are important not only in devising best-treatment practices for the institution, but also in evaluating the impact of a recently implemented ASP. Other measures of the impact of an ASP should include patient outcomes and overall costs or savings.

Summary: Better antimicrobial stewardship is needed to limit the emergence of antibiotic resistance, prolong the effectiveness of currently available agents, improve patient outcomes, and reduce healthcare and societal costs associated with HAIs. Guidelines from the IDSA/SHEA and experiences at OSUMC provide examples of how best to develop an institutional ASP to accomplish these goals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / economics
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Bacterial Infections / drug therapy*
  • Bacterial Infections / economics*
  • Bacterial Infections / microbiology
  • Bacterial Infections / prevention & control
  • Cross Infection / drug therapy
  • Cross Infection / economics*
  • Cross Infection / microbiology*
  • Cross Infection / prevention & control
  • Drug Resistance, Microbial
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents