How to assess an Antimicrobial Stewardship Program

A study compares the merits of DOT and DOTA


The currently recommended method for hospital antimicrobial stewardship programs (ASPs) to measure antibiotic use is Days of Therapy/1,000 patient-days, but there are a few disadvantages of using the DOT, said Maryrose Laguio-Vila, MD, coauthor of a recent study on stewardship.

A closeup of various antibiotics spilling from a pill bottle luchschen/Thinkstock

“For accurate measurement, it requires information technology (IT) support to assist an ASP in generating reports of antibiotic prescriptions and administrations to patients, often from an electronic medical record (EMR). In hospitals where there is no EMR, DOT is probably not easily done and would have to be manually extracted (a herculean task),” she said. “Second, DOT tends to be an aggregate measurement of antibiotics used at an institution or hospital location; if an ASP does a specific intervention targeting a group of antibiotics or infectious indication, changes in the hospital-wide DOT or drug-class DOT may not accurately reflect the exact impact of an ASP’s intervention.”

The paper offers an alternative/supplemental method for ASPs to quantify their impact on antibiotic use without using an EMR or needing IT support: Days of Therapy Avoided. “DOTA can be tracked prospectively (or retrospectively) with each intervention an ASP makes, and calculates an exact amount of antibiotic use avoided,” Dr. Laguio-Vila said. “If the ASP also tracks the types of antibiotic recommendations made according to infectious indication, comparison of DOTA between indications – such as pneumonia versus UTI [urinary tract infection] – can lead to ideas of which type of indication needs clinical guidelines development, or order set revision, or which type of infection the ASP should target to reduce high-risk antibiotics.”

Also, she added, because most ASPs have several types of interventions at once (such as education on pneumonia guidelines, as well as penicillin-allergy assessment), aggregate assessments of institutional antibiotic use like the DOT cannot quantify how much impact a specific intervention has accomplished. DOTA may offer a fairer assessment of the direct changes in antibiotic use resulting from specific ASP activities, because tracking DOTA is extracted from each specific patient intervention.

“Now that the Joint Commission has a requirement that all hospitals seeking JC accreditation have some form of an ASP in place and measure antibiotic use in some way at their institution, there may be numerous hospitals facing the same challenges with calculating a DOT. DOTA would meet these requirements, but in a ‘low tech’ way,” Dr. Laguio-Vila said. “For hospitalists with interests in being the antibiotic steward or champion for their institution, DOTA is an option for measuring antibiotic use.”


Datta S et al. Days of therapy avoided: A novel method for measuring the impact of an antimicrobial stewardship program to stop antibiotics. J Hosp Med. 2018 Feb 8. doi: 10.12788/jhm.2927.

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