Antibiograms: A simple tool to fight antibiotic resistance in the elderly

A recent study published in Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology found that 85 percent of residents in skilled nursing homes (SNFs) were treated with an antibiotic without the physician performing lab tests to determine the most appropriate drug. Of those medications prescribed, researchers from the University of Oregon found that 65 percent were the wrong medication to fight the resident’s infection.

Overuse of antibiotics has led to antibiotic drug resistance, which makes it difficult to treat even simple infections, such as urinary tract infections. This resistance to antibiotics is becoming a growing health threat.

The authors found that antibiograms, pocket-sized documents, are based on information obtained through lab testing and provide information on how likely a certain antibiotic is to effectively treat a particular infection.

Opportunities exist to increase their use not only in nursing homes but also in large medical clinics and other local healthcare facilities for outpatient treatment. The recent study was based on an analysis of 839 resident and patient records from skilled nursing and acute-care facilities.

“When we’re only prescribing an appropriate antibiotic 35 percent of the time, that’s clearly a problem,” says Jon Furuno, lead author and an associate professor in the Oregon State University/Oregon Health & Science University College of Pharmacy.

Topics: Clinical