Study: Unnecessary antibiotic Rxs creating millions in avoidable costs

September 15, 2014

The overprescribing of antibiotics by hospitals may be producing $163 million in excess costs, according to a study published in Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology.

The overprescribing of antibiotics by hospitals may be producing $163 million in excess costs, according to a study published in Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology.

"The overuse of antibiotics is an industry-wide public health issue that is occurring across all care settings," said Leslie Schultz, RN, PhD, lead author of the study. "Sometimes in an effort to 'do whatever it takes' to fight a serious infection, clinicians use multiple antibiotics to treat the same infection. This practice can contribute to antimicrobial resistance, put patient safety at risk, and increase costs.”

According to the study, nearly 70% of the unnecessary prescribing was related to three drug combinations used to treat anaerobic infections. The prescribing of metronidazole and piperacillin-tazobactam was noted in 50% of unnecessary prescriptions.

The study analyzed pharmacy data between 2008 and 2011 from more than 500 hospitals in the United States. At 78% of the hospitals the study found unnecessary drug combinations and 32,507 cases of redundant antibiotics treatment.

"Improving the way antibiotics are prescribed not only helps reduce rates of Clostridium difficile infection and antibiotic resistance, but can also improve individual patient outcomes, all while reducing healthcare costs," said Arjun Srinivasan, MD, associate director for healthcare associated infection prevention programs in the Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Eliminating these unnecessarily duplicative antibiotic therapies is a simple way that all facilities can both protect their patients and save healthcare dollars.”