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USA Health Children's & Women's Hospital earns Antibiotic Stewardship Award

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By Casandra Andrews
candrews@health.southalabama.edu

The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at USA Health Children & Women’s Hospital has been designated as a “Center of Excellence in Education and Training for Antibiotic Stewardship in Newborn Care” from the Vermont Oxford Network (VON).

From 2016 to 2018, an interdisciplinary team including neonatologists, infectious diseases specialists, nurses and pharmacists at the hospital took part in “Choosing Antibiotics Wisely,” an international quality improvement collaborative developed by VON in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to address the overuse and misuse of antibiotics in newborn care. The designation recognizes that at least 85 percent of the care team participating in the improvement collaborative completed educational requirements and submitted an abstract of improvement work to the VON Annual Quality Congress.

The overuse of antibiotics is a serious issue in newborn healthcare because of the harmful impact it can have on an infant’s ability to fight infections, said Benjamin Estrada, M.D., professor and vice chair of the department of pediatrics at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine and a pediatric infectious diseases physician with USA Health.

“This designation is important to our hospital and community as it represents our efforts to provide outstanding care through customized development and implementation of innovative antibiotic protocols for our neonatal patients,” Estrada said. “These evidence-based approaches are also designed to preserve antibiotic efficacy while enhancing patient safety and quality of care.”

Antibiotic misuse in the perinatal period can alter an infant’s microbiome for its entire life and decrease the effectiveness of antibiotics for the whole population, according to Estrada.

The Mobile, Ala.-based hospital team, part of USA Health, joined more than 180 other groups from newborn nurseries, birth centers, and neonatal intensive care units in 38 states and seven countries to employ proven quality improvement methods to implement processes, procedures and tools aimed at using antibiotics more responsibly. The goal was to rapidly screen, identify, and treat infants who benefit from antibiotics while decreasing the use of antibiotics for infants who did not need them.

“Antibiotic stewardship is vital in helping to fight the threat of antibiotic resistance,” said Cathy McCurley, RN, neonatal outreach coordinator at Children’s & Women’s Hospital. “I am excited that our hospital was able to achieve this designation. It represents collaboration and dedication by our team to improve the quality of care we provide for our youngest patients.”

As a global leader in data-driven quality improvement for newborn care, VON provides resources to help interdisciplinary teams improve on the most critical and complex challenges facing newborn caregivers. The Choosing Antibiotics Wisely quality improvement collaborative formal activities ran from 2016-2018 and teams continue to demonstrate improvement with a new commitment to reaching a 45% reduction in antibiotic use rates by 2022.

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