HCN News & Notes

Joint Commission Joins White House Effort to Reduce Antibiotic Overuse

OAKBROOK TERRACE, Ill. — As part of the recent White House Forum on Antibiotic Stewardship, the Joint Commission announced a commitment to increase its efforts to promote effective antibiotic stewardship within healthcare facilities.

The Joint Commission joined representatives from more than 150 major healthcare organizations, food companies, retailers, and animal-health organizations at the forum to announce their commitment to implementing changes over the next five years to slow the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, detect resistant strains, preserve the efficacy of existing antibiotics, and prevent the spread of resistant infections.

As part of its commitment, the Joint Commission will begin by reviewing its current standards and work with accredited organizations and others to identify where new standards may be needed to promote effective antibiotic stewardship. The Joint Commission will develop any new standards as rapidly as possible and simultaneously provide new tools to help providers use antibiotics judiciously.

This issue is a high priority for the Joint Commission because the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria represents a serious threat to public health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates at least 2 million illnesses and 23,000 deaths in the U.S. each year are caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and 20{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} to 50{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} of all antibiotics prescribed in acute-care hospitals in the U.S. are either unnecessary or inappropriate.

Inappropriate use of antibiotics includes, but is not limited to, prescribing antibiotics for viral infections, using broad-spectrum antibiotics instead of narrow-spectrum antibiotics, and prescribing antibiotics in response to pressure from patients and families.

“The Joint Commission knows that antibiotic stewardship is a proven method of reducing the inappropriate use of antibiotics and improving patient safety,” said Dr. Mark Chassin, president and CEO of the Joint Commission. “We are committed to helping healthcare providers improve their ability to practice effective stewardship in order that the nation can both optimize the treatment of infections and reduce adverse events associated with antibiotic use.”

In order to ensure alignment with stewardship initiatives at the federal level, the Joint Commission will seek the input of government entities charged under President Obama’s Sept. 18, 2014 executive order focusing on combating antibiotic-resistant bacteria. That order requires the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the Department of Defense, and the Department of Veterans Affairs to develop requirements for antibiotic-stewardship programs. These and other federal agencies and stakeholder groups will have input into the research associated with the development process for any changes in accreditation standards.

In addition to evaluating its standards, the Joint Commission has committed to develop several publications to raise the level of awareness of providers to the benefit of engaging in stewardship practices, create patient-based materials to engage consumers in this important area, and update its toolkit to support organizations with implementing stewardship programs. More information is available at www.jointcommission.org.