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Clinical and economic impact of an antibiotics stewardship programme in a regional hospital in Hong Kong

Abstract

Background: Inappropriate use of antibiotics is one of the important factors attributing to emergence of drug-resistant pathogens. Infection with multidrug-resistant pathogens adversely affects quality of medical care.

Context: Queen Elizabeth Hospital, an 1800-bed acute service hospital in Hong Kong. Antibiotics are commonly prescribed for treating acute infections.

Key measures for improvement: Reduce inappropriate prescription of broad-spectrum antibiotics and overall antibiotic prescription through implementation of a multidisciplinary antibiotics stewardship programme (ASP).

Strategies for change: A multidisciplinary programme involving policy and guideline formulation, education and feedback, monthly antibiotic consumption and cost monitoring, antimicrobial susceptibility pattern reporting and concurrent feedbacks for commonly prescribed broad-spectrum antibiotics was implemented in 2004. Predefined logistics to prescribe “restricted” antibiotics were formulated and implemented with collaborative efforts from clinical and non-clinical departments. The programme was supported by management at department and hospital levels.

Effects of change: Broad-spectrum antibiotics were prescribed inappropriately in 28.9% (n = 192) clinical scenarios. The ASP reduced the restricted and total antibiotic consumption as well as the antibiotics-related costs. Predefined clinical outcomes were not adversely affected. Economic analysis suggested that the extra human cost in running ASP could be offset by savings from antibiotic expenditure.

Lessons learned: It is cost-effective to implement a multidisciplinary ASP in acute service hospitals as the programme reduces antibiotic consumption and results in overall cost savings. The quality of medical care is not jeopardised as the important clinical outcomes are not adversely affected. The generalisability and sustainability of ASPs in other clinical contexts warrant further studies to ensure the continuous success of this programme.

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