BACKGROUND:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published the Core Elements of Hospital Antibiotic Stewardship Programs (ASPs), while the Choosing Wisely for Newborn Medicine Top 5 list identified antibiotic therapy as an area of overuse. We identify the baseline prevalence and makeup of newborn-specific ASPs and assess the variability of NICU antibiotic use rates (AURs).

METHODS:

Data were collected using a cross-sectional audit of Vermont Oxford Network members in February 2016. Unit measures were derived from the 7 domains of the CDC’s Core Elements of Hospital ASPs, including leadership commitment, accountability, drug expertise, action, tracking, reporting, and education. Patient-level measures included patient demographics, indications, and reasons for therapy. An AUR, defined as the number of infants who are on antibiotic therapy divided by the census that day, was calculated for each unit.

RESULTS:

Overall, 143 centers completed structured self-assessments. No center addressed all 7 core elements. Of the 7, only accountability (55%) and drug expertise (62%) had compliance >50%. Centers audited 4127 infants for current antibiotic exposure. There were 725 infants who received antibiotics, for a hospital median AUR of 17% (interquartile range 10%–26%). Of the 412 patients on >48 hours of antibiotics, only 26% (107 out of 412) had positive culture results.

CONCLUSIONS:

Significant gaps exist between CDC recommendations to improve antibiotic use and antibiotic practices during the newborn period. There is wide variation in point prevalence AURs. Three-quarters of infants who received antibiotics for >48 hours did not have infections proven by using cultures.

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