Antibiotic stewardship programs and the internist’s role

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Massimo Giusti *
Elena Cerutti
(*) Corresponding Author:
Massimo Giusti | massimogiusti@libero.it

Abstract

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a worldwide issue, but with significant epidemiological diversity in different countries. A recently observed phenomenon is represented by the diffusion of AMR, initially confined to intensive-care units, to medical wards. This was predictable, since patients hospitalized in medical units are made up of more than 70% of elderly people (over 75 years of age in 1 case out of 2). They are fragile patients, with significant comorbidity (over a half with at least 3 diseases), weakened immune systems, and consequently a higher risk of infection. Given such a scenario, it becomes therefore both necessary and urgent to adopt a multifaceted approach of antimicrobial stewardship programs in order to prevent, detect and control the emergence of antimicrobial resistant organisms. The ideal antimicrobial program is led by an infectious diseases (ID) physician and clinical pharmacist with ID training, together with a list of other important staff: clinical microbiologist, information systems specialist, infection control professional, and hospital epidemiologist. In real life, not all the Italian hospitals have got an ID physician and therefore the best canditates for antimicrobial management practices are internists if provided with a specific expertise in ID and antibiotic therapy. Adhering to the principles of optimal antimicrobial therapy in their clinical practice, the internist is able to improve the care and help to reduce the resistance of a patient at his bedside. At the same time, he can achieve other key goals reducing the length of stay and reducing the cost and utilization of health care resources.

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