Controlling Inappropriate Antibiotic Use Across Settings Provides for Better Patient Outcomes

September 8, 2015

The Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA) supports all of the nation’s healthcare providers across the spectrum of healthcare stepping up coordinated efforts to curb improper use of antibiotics by practicing antibiotic stewardship.  A new Vital Signs report released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) spotlights the issue of healthcare communities working together on antibiotic misuse and overuse to improve patient safety.

"Curbing unnecessary and excessive use of antibiotics is one of the best defenses against the spread of drug-resistant infections.  It helps preserve the efficacy of antibiotics," said Sara Cosgrove, MD, MS, Associate Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology at Johns Hopkins University and Chair of SHEA's Antimicrobial Stewardship Committee and Vice President of SHEA’s Board of Trustees.  "By working together as a healthcare community to improve antibiotic prescribing we are able to make aggressive strides toward stemming the threat of antibiotic resistance and ensuring patients are receiving the right antibiotic, at the right dose, and for the right duration."

CDC has estimated that 20 percent to 50 percent of all antibiotics prescribed in U.S. acute care hospitals are either unnecessary or inappropriate.  As a result, CDC said, more than two million people are infected with antibiotic-resistant organisms, resulting in approximately 23,000 deaths annually.  CDC has previously recommended that all acute-care hospitals create antibiotic stewardship programs (ASP) in which specific leaders and staff are accountable for tracking, reporting and educating staff about antibiotic misuse.

"Routine overuse of antibiotics--no matter what the healthcare setting--causes harm to patients by putting them at risk for developing antibiotic-resistant infections and side effects such as C. difficile infections. Clinicians should make it a habit to critically evaluate their antibiotic prescribing decisions," said Cosgrove.

SHEA is a recognized leader in promoting judicious antibiotic use in patients and populations via research, expert guidance, and education in the area of antibiotic stewardship.


SHEA is a professional society representing physicians and other healthcare professionals around the world with expertise and passion in healthcare epidemiology, infection prevention, and antimicrobial stewardship. SHEA's mission is to prevent and control healthcare-associated infections, improve the use of antibiotics in healthcare settings, and advance the field of healthcare epidemiology. The society leads this specialty by promoting science and research, advocating for effective policies, providing high-quality education and training, and developing appropriate guidelines and guidance in practice. SHEA upholds the value and critical contributions of healthcare epidemiology and improved antibiotic use to improve patient care and healthcare worker safety in all healthcare settings. Visit SHEA online at, and @SHEA_Epi.

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