Redundant Antimicrobial Therapy Is Pervasive, Costly

Cases identified in three-quarters of hospitals, totaling $12 million of avoidable costs

MONDAY, Sept. 22, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Redundant use of antimicrobial therapy is pervasive in U.S. hospitals and is associated with considerable, potentially avoidable, health care costs, according to a study published in the October issue of Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology.

Leslie Schultz, Ph.D., from the Premier Safety Institute in Charlotte, N.C., and colleagues retrospectively analyzed inpatient administrative data from 505 nonfederal U.S. hospitals for all hospitalized patients discharged between 2008 and 2011. Pharmacy records were used to identify potentially redundant antimicrobial therapy, defined as patients receiving treatment with overlapping antibiotic spectra for two or more consecutive days.

The researchers found that potentially inappropriate, redundant antimicrobial coverage for 23 different antimicrobial combinations was evident in 78 percent of the hospitals, representing a total of 32,507 cases. Three antianaerobic regimens were noted to have high-frequency redundancies and accounted for 70 percent of the cases, including metronidazole and piperacillin-tazobactam, which accounted for more than half (53 percent) of all potentially redundant cases. There were 148,589 days of redundant therapy, equivalent to more than $12 million in potentially avoidable health care costs.

"Our study suggests that there may be pervasive use of redundant antimicrobial therapy within U.S. hospitals," conclude the authors.

Several authors are employees of Premier.

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