CMS Requires Hospitals to Implement Antibiotic Stewardship Programs

In an effort to address the volume of unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions issued annually, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) now mandates that all hospitals implement antibiotic stewardship programs. According to Modern Healthcare, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that programs incorporate several core elements including “leadership commitment, tracking antibiotic prescribing and resistance patterns and educating clinicians on better prescribing practices.” 

A timeline outlined by Modern Healthcare describes the evolution of mandates for antibiotic stewardship: 

  • In 2016, CMS began requiring “nursing facilities to have a stewardship program in response to widespread misuse of antibiotics in such settings.” 
  • In 2017, the Joint Commission expanded efforts by issuing “standards for acute-care hospitals, critical access hospitals and nursing homes to have an antibiotic stewardship program to maintain their accreditation.” 
  • As of this past June, the requirement also pertains to ambulatory care centers. 

Dr. David Hyun, senior officer for the Pew Charitable Trusts’ Antibiotic Resistance Project, says he hopes the latest rule will “sustain momentum to improve antibiotic stewardship” among all healthcare institutions. Other experts cited by Modern Healthcare say the new regulation “is a big step forward in the fight against superbugs,” particularly because it will increase hospital involvement in infection control. Hyun predicts that the next step will focus on improving the quality of these programs.

Click here for a summary of the CDC’s key components of an antibiotic stewardship program. 

MLMIC encourages all our insured facilities to examine their antibiotic stewardship programs to ensure compliance with CDC guidelines.  Staff and provider education throughout your organization is a key component to a successful infection control and prevention program that includes the evaluation of antibiotic usage.   

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