CMS' proposed rule for hospitals: Reduce antibiotic use or exit Medicare

On Monday, CMS released a proposed rule change to its Conditions of Participation which would, among other changes, require hospitals to implement antibiotic stewardship programs in order to participate in Medicare and Medicaid.

"We believe that benefits of the proposed revisions would include; reduced incidence of hospital-acquired conditions, including reduced incidence of healthcare-associated infections; reduced inappropriate antibiotic use; and strengthened patient protections overall," the rule change reads.

In addition to requiring a hosptialwide infection prevention and control program and antibiotic stewardship program, CMS' proposed rule change would require hospitals to appoint designated, qualified leaders for those programs.

Antibiotic overuse and misuse are a "very important and serious public health problem in the United States," Arjun Srinivasan, MD, associate director for HAI prevention programs within the CDC, has said. Drug-resistant bacteria cause 2 million illnesses and 23,000 deaths annually, and have been even more of a focus after an untreatable superbug was identified for the first time in the U.S. in April.

Studies have shown stewardship programs may lower the use of antibiotics by almost 20 percent and have linked such programs to a drop in infection rates.

In a statement to The Wall Street Journal, the American Hospital Association said, "The emphasis on good infection control and antibiotic stewardship is consistent with the important work hospitals are doing to reduce infections and preserve the effectiveness of our current antibiotics. We join CMS in recognizing the importance of these programs and are always looking to make them more effective."

Unrelated to antibiotic stewardship or infection control, the proposed rule change would also require hospitals to establish a policy prohibiting discrimination on the base of race, color, religion, national origin, sex and gender identity, sexual orientation, age or disability to participate in Medicare and Medicaid.

CMS is accepting comments on the proposed rule through Aug. 15. See the fact sheet for more information here.

Note: This article was updated to correct a typo in the AHA statement. We regret the error.

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