Medical Center Reduces Antibiotic Resistance, Wins Award for Quality

December 17, 2002

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – In response to rising rates of bacterial resistance to antibiotics and rapidly increasing expenditures, Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center implemented a program over the past three years that has reduced resistance to the drugs, improved patient care, and significantly lowered hospital costs.

And the Medical Center will receive a national award for its new program. The Medical Center is one of 10 centers nationwide named a “Quality Performer” in the Premier Award for Quality Program. The Medical Center was recognized for its project to develop guidelines for antibiotics use, which saved more than $570,000 in one year and helped reduce rates of antibiotic resistance.

“Quality doesn’t have to cost more – this is one of several programs we’ve instituted that prove that,” said Ron Small, director of pharmacy.

The project addressed a national problem – the overuse of antibiotics that has caused organisms to become resistant to certain antibiotics. As a result, more powerful and expensive drugs must be developed.

“We believe that by using antibiotics more appropriately, we can delay this resistance from developing,” said Small.

The project began in 2000 when the Medical Center appointed a panel of physicians, pharmacists and microbiologists to use the latest medical knowledge to develop guidelines for antibiotic use. The guidelines, which are followed for all hospitalized patients, determine which drugs and dosages are used for specific organisms.

“By identifying specific drugs for use and eliminating others, we were able to get the best prices from our suppliers,” said Small.

Before the guidelines were implemented, Medical Center expenses for antibiotics typically increased by 16 percent a year.

Since implementation, expenses have decreased an average of 6 percent per year.

In one year, cost savings were about $570,000. In addition, data indicate that resistance rates are below that of comparable institutions.

The Medical Center will be honored for the project at a ceremony in Las Vegas, Nev., in May.

“The winners are pathfinders, scouts, and teachers exemplifying a thrust for excellence in patient care,” said Richard A. Norling, Premier chairman and chief executive officer. “We’re pleased to recognize the high caliber of these improvement efforts, and our congratulations go to all of our 2002 honorees. They’ve set a standard others can aspire to.”

Premier is a national alliance of more than 1,500 non-for-profit hospitals committed to improving health care quality, enhancing safety and reducing costs.


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