National and worldwide misuse of antibiotics has lessened their effectiveness and led to drug-resistant organisms, but Iredell Memorial Hospital was recognized this week for being the first hospital in the state of North Carolina to take critical steps to change that misuse through an antibiotic stewardship program.
The North Carolina Division of Public Health (NC DPH) named Iredell Memorial Hospital as an Advanced Star Partner for its antibiotic stewardship program, which emphasizes effective antibiotic use by ensuring patients are getting the appropriate medication at the right dosage for the proper duration.
The award is part of the NC DPH Stewardship of Antimicrobial Resources (STAR) Partners initiative, and Iredell Memorial is the first hospital to meet the program's requirements, which include performing educational activities, documenting details of antibiotic orders, tracking antibiotic use, and testing for antimicrobial susceptibility.
"We're really excited we were recognized. But more important than being recognized statewide is that we're doing the right thing for our patients and the community," said Steve Critz, Director of Pharmacy for Iredell Health System. "We've done a lot of education. It's the right thing to do, and I think we're making a positive impact."
Since 2014, the Iredell Memorial Hospital pharmacy has been working with Duke University Medical Center in the Duke Antimicrobial Stewardship Outreach Network (DASON) to develop its antibiotic stewardship program.
Iredell emphasized hospital-wide collaboration while implementing and executing the program.
"It's a multidisciplinary approach," said Travis Jones, Infectious Diseases Clinical Pharmacist with DASON. "We have someone from IT, from nursing, from anesthesia. We have someone from microbiology, hospital administration, infection prevention, and infectious diseases. We believe that's what makes it a great program, is that we've been able to work together to solve issues here at Iredell related to antibiotic use."
The Joint Commission and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are identifying the importance of antibiotic stewardship programs in helping prevent unnecessary drug use, excessive costs, and the development of multidrug-resistant organisms. When The Joint Commission began mandating antibiotic stewardship programs in January 2017, the Iredell Memorial Hospital pharmacy had already met the commission's standards.
"The award is a testament to the partnership we have with Duke and to the amount of hard work we've done together to push antibiotic stewardship forward and to support hospitals in improving their prescribing of antibiotics," said Patricia Orajaka, Iredell's Antibiotic Stewardship Pharmacist.
"Of all the hospitals in North Carolina, Iredell was able to meet these requirements and apply them faster than the others. That's quite an accomplishment," Critz said. "We look forward to continuing this work and promoting the optimal use of antibiotics."