Hospitalists should consider the arena of antimicrobial stewardship one of the newest frontiers of clinical efficiency and cost savings, according to the author of a study in a supplement to this month's Journal of Hospital Medicine.
David Rosenberg, MD, MPH, FACP, SFHM, of the Department of Medicine, Section of Hospital Medicine at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, N.Y., says that changing the mindset on antibiotic resistance might seem like a daunting task, but it dovetails neatly with HM's current focus on quality and safety, particularly when it can help reduce length of stay (LOS).
"Think different about antibiotics and build that into your practice," he says.
The supplement highlights four related papers tackling the issues of appropriate initiation and selection of antibiotics, antimicrobial de-escalation strategies, duration and cessation of treatment, and Dr. Rosenberg's paper, "The Emerging Role of Hospitalists." The research includes an online CME component.
Dr. Rosenberg writes that hospitalists "are positioned as excellent champions of the principles and practices of antimicrobial stewardship." That means revamping the use of antibiotics both for individual patients and on an institutional level. That leadership means accepting that "culture change is slow" and physicians often feel "trapped" in letting an antibiotic treatment run its course rather than reassessing midstream.
Still, Dr. Rosenberg says, national guidelines on antibiotic overuse are likely to be developed in the coming years, and hospitalists would do well to get ahead of that curve.
"We're talking about the optimal treatment of patients we are already taking care of," he says. "Stewardship is a natural step forward."