New Standard Announced for Antimicrobial Stewardship


Decreasing antimicrobial resistance and improving the correct use of antimicrobials is a national priority. According to CDC estimates, at least 2 million illnesses and 23,000 deaths annually are caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the United States alone.

Antimicrobial resistance is a serious global healthcare issue,” says Kelly Podgorny, DNP, MS, CPHQ, RN, project director at The Joint Commission. “If you review the scientific literature, it will indicate that we’re in crisis mode right now because of this.”

That’s why The Joint Commission recently announced a new Medication Management (MM) standard for hospitals, critical-access hospitals, and nursing care centers. This standard addresses antimicrobial stewardship and becomes effective January 1, 2017.

The Joint Commission is one of many organizations implementing plans to support the national action plan on this issue developed by the White House and signed by President Barack Obama. The purpose of The Joint Commission’s antimicrobial stewardship standard is to improve quality and patient safety and also to support, through its accreditation process, imperatives and actions at a national level.

The Joint Commission’s standard includes medications beyond just antibiotics by addressing antimicrobial stewardship. Clifford Chen, MD and Steven Eagle, MD

“Most of the organizations are focusing on antibiotics,” Podgorny says. “We broadened our perspective. The World Health Organization states that antimicrobial resistance threatens the effective prevention and treatment of an ever-increasing range of infections caused by bacteria, which would be antibiotics, but also includes parasites, viruses, and fungi.”

She emphasizes that hospitals need to have an effective antimicrobial stewardship program supported by hospital leadership. In fact, in The Joint Commission’s standard, the first element of performance requires leadership to establish antimicrobial stewardship as an organizational priority.

For hospitalists, antimicrobial stewardship should be a major issue in their daily work lives.

“The CDC states that studies indicate that 30–50% percent of antibiotics, and we’re just talking about antibiotics here, prescribed in hospitals are unnecessary or inappropriate,” Podgorny says.


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States, 2012.

    2. The Joint Commission. New Antimicrobial Stewardship Standard. Accessed September 25, 2016.

Quick Byte

Improving the Bundled Payment Model

Researchers took national Medicare fee-for-service claims for the period 2011–2012 and evaluated how 30- and 90-day episode-based spending related to patient satisfaction and surgical mortality. Results showed patients who had major surgery at high-quality hospitals cost Medicare less than patients at low-quality hospitals. Post-acute care accounted for 59.5% of the difference in 30-day episode spending. Researchers concluded that efforts to increase value with bundled payment should pay attention to improving the care at low-quality hospitals and reducing unnecessary post-acute care.


  1. Tsai TC, Greaves F, Zheng J, Orav EJ, Zinner MJ, Jha AK. Better patient care at high-quality hospitals may save Medicare money and bolster episode-based payment models. Health Aff (Millwood). 2016;35(9):1681-1689.

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