Introducing antimicrobial stewardship to the outpatient clinics of a suburban academic health system

Antimicrob Steward Healthc Epidemiol. 2022;2(1):e9. doi: 10.1017/ash.2021.228. Epub 2022 Jan 17.


Objective: To establish an antimicrobial stewardship program in the outpatient setting.

Design: Prescribers of antimicrobials were asked to complete a survey regarding antimicrobial stewardship. We also monitored their compliance with appropriate prescribing practices, which were shared in monthly quality improvement reports.

Setting: The study was performed at Loyola University Health System, an academic teaching healthcare system in a metropolitan suburban environment.

Participants: Prescribers of antimicrobials across 19 primary care and 3 immediate- and urgent-care clinics.

Methods: The voluntary survey was developed using SurveyMonkeyand was distributed via e-mail. Data were collected anonymously. Rates of compliance with appropriate prescribing practices were abstracted from electronic health records and assessed by 3 metrics: (1) avoidance of antibiotics in adult acute bronchitis and appropriate antibiotic treatment in (2) patients tested for pharyngitis and (3) children with upper respiratory tract infections.

Results: Prescribers were highly knowledgeable about what constitutes appropriate prescribing; verified compliance rates were highly concordant with self-reported rates. Nearly all prescribers were concerned about resistance, but fewer than half believed antibiotics were overprescribed in their office. Among respondents, 74% reported intense pressure from patients to prescribe antimicrobials inappropriately. Immediate- and urgent-care prescribers had higher rates of compliance than primary-care prescribers, and the latter group responded well to monthly reports and online educational resources.

Conclusions: Intense pressure from patients to prescribe antimicrobials when they are not indicated leads to overprescribing, an effect compounded by the importance of patient satisfaction scores. Compliance reporting improved the number of appropriate antibiotics prescribed in the primary care setting.