Nurses 'overlooked and underutilized' in antibiotic stewardship initiatives

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Nurse engagement and empowerment is a key to strengthening antimicrobial stewardship programs, according to a study presented at the 45th Annual Conference of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, June 13 to June 15, in Minneapolis.

Researchers conducted a 10-question quiz on antibiotic usage among nurses at Philadelphia-based Jefferson Health.

The study shows that nurses were not very comfortable with microbiology reports or familiar with the unique features of different antibiotics. While a majority of nurses incorporated microbiology results during sign-out reporting, only half checked susceptibility results of cultures before administering antibiotics.

Researchers found that engaging chief nursing officers helped encourage nurse buy-in and participation in antimicrobial stewardship programs. Additionally, making materials more nurse-friendly and integrating them into nursing workflow helped increase nurse engagement in these programs.

"Our findings show that nurses have been overlooked and underutilized in ASPs," said Cindy Hou, DO, the study's lead author and infection control officer for Jefferson Health's New Jersey facilities. "Changing the culture and empowering nurses to speak up about antimicrobial stewardship leads to closer team coordination and cross-discipline collaboration, which ultimately saves lives."

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