Author — Nimalie Stone, M.D.
CDC’s Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion
With increasing drug-resistant bacteria and complicating conditions from antibiotic use like diarrhea from C. difficile on the rise, we must look at every opportunity available to improve how antibiotics are being used in healthcare settings. This year as part of CDC’s Get Smart About Antibiotics Week, in addition to our ongoing focus on improving antibiotic use in hospitals, we invite partners who deliver care in long-term care facilities (e.g., nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities) to also join in the Get Smart for Healthcare campaign.
Antibiotics are some of the most frequently prescribed medications in long-term care facilities. Studies estimate that between 50-70% of residents will receive at least 1 course of antibiotics every year. Over time, that adds up to a lot of medication exposure. All this antibiotic use also drives the development of resistant bacteria making future infections far more difficult and costly to treat. One of the biggest challenges facing long-term care facilities is the prevention and control of C. difficile infections and relapses. These infections are more severe in people over age 65 resulting in hospitalizations and sometimes death.
Antibiotic use across all healthcare settings must be addressed if we are going to protect our communities from these serious threats. Long-term care providers can demonstrate their commitment to improving antibiotic use by assessing their current antibiotic use, standardizing the evaluation of residents who are suspected of having an infection and improving documentation of antibiotic indications. In addition, residents and their family members should be included in the conversation about the importance of careful antibiotic use so they can be a part of the efforts to prevent unnecessary use whenever possible.
We applaud all our long-term care partners who have joined this campaign and started improving antibiotic use in their facilities. What are your ideas about how long-term care facilities can address antibiotic use? How can residents and their families get involved?