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September 13, 2023

In The News: Three U.S. Children’s Hospitals Uncover $250k in Antibiotic Waste Over 2 Years

Healio covers a study on antibiotic waste conducted on Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Over a two-year span (2020-2021), the three-hospital system of more than 600 beds found it incurred costs of $255,503 in antibiotic waste. Much of that figure was attributed to discarded antibiotics, including drugs that were in short supply.

Researchers found that the hospitals wasted an average of 80 doses per day during the study period. Ampicillin was the most wasted drug, accounting for 7,789 of the 58,607 wasted dose total. Additionally, researchers reported 99% of waste were IV or suspension formulations and that around half of the overall waste occurred within the first two days or the day of discharge. This has led to the instituting of antibiotic use changes system-wide.

One measure is introducing automatic stoppage times for antibiotics. This would curtail the pharmacy preparing unnecessary doses that would just be discarded. Automatic stop times have been introduced for febrile neonates who received 36 hours of antibiotics with pending blood cultures and patients treated for otitis media. Other automatic stop times or prior authorizations are under consideration including for broad-spectrum antibiotics and an educational campaign for providers to urge early discharge planning, such as changing to oral therapy sooner has been proposed.

The study focused on inpatient settings. Researchers acknowledged there were likely waste issues in outpatient instances as well, in part due to the size of antibiotic bottles for drugs like amoxicillin.

PIDS member and co-author of the study, Preeti Jaggi, is quoted in the story. “This research identified opportunities for the system to be more precise and less wasteful with antibiotics. This is a common problem that occurs in many pediatric hospitals because of specific weight-based dosing and time between ordering and pharmacy preparation. Our goal is to start patients on the right antibiotics as soon as possible, and we strive to ensure our patients don’t have longer than necessary hospital stays. These quality initiatives can have an impact on antibiotic prescribing.”

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