Antimicrobials are the most commonly prescribed drug class in children. Overuse through inappropriate prescribing is a key driver of antimicrobial resistance and is recognized as one of the top 10 threats to global health by the World Health Organization.
A prospective observational cohort study was performed following implementation of a multifaceted Antimicrobial Stewardship (AMS) program (January 2014 to December 2020). Data were collected on AMS and “handshake” ward rounds from patient information sources and directly from clinicians responsible for patient care. Primary outcomes include appropriateness of therapy (drug, dose, antimicrobial spectrum, duration and route), compliance with prescribing guidelines, antimicrobial expenditure, use of high-priority antimicrobials and duration of hospitalization. We compared outcomes across 3 time periods; January 2014–December 2015, January 2016–December 2017 and January 2018–December 2020.
The appropriateness of individual antimicrobial orders improved across the study periods from 6111/7040 (79.4%) in the first 2 years following implementation of the AMS program to 17,819/19,229 (92.3%) in the latter period. Guideline compliance increased from 5426/7700 (70.5%) to 17,822/19,316 (92.3%). A reduction in overall antimicrobial expenditure (34% reduction, equivalent to $12.52 per bed day) and a decrease in antifungal expenditure (37% reduction, equivalent to $5.56 per bed day) was observed across the time periods.
This study quantifies a comprehensive pediatric AMS program’s sustained impact on reducing inappropriate antimicrobial use and expenditure and improving compliance with guidelines. The effectiveness of these interventions has been demonstrated and should be considered by institutions seeking to improve rational antimicrobial use in children.