Wasted antibiotics cost 3 children's hospitals $230K

An average of 80 antibiotic doses were wasted daily at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta between 2020 and 2021, which cost the system about $233,000, according to a study conducted by employees of the three-hospital system and Atlanta-based Emory University. 

Within two years, 58,607 doses for 17,319 patients were thrown away because antibiotics prepared in intravenous dilutions or with weight-based dosage cannot be reused. About half of the waste happened in the first two days of admission or the day a patient was discharged.

The research, which was published Aug. 29 in Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology, predicted the overall loss was $255,503 after factoring in the cost of syringes and saline. 

Ten antibiotics accounted for 77 percent of the doses wasted, and eight of them were in shortage or have been in short supply since 2020. Unused doses exacerbate drug shortages, which already strain hospital budgets, add more workload to pharmacists and can affect patient care. 

The three most commonly wasted drugs were ampicillin (7,789 doses), clindamycin (7,597 doses) and cefazolin (5,486 doses). Five other drugs cost the system $36,541 and were the most expensive per milligram: tigecycline, ceftaroline, ceftazidime-avibactam, ertapenem and sulfamethoxazole-trimethoprim.

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