Associations Form Partnership to Address Antibiotic Use in Rapidly Growing Urgent Care Sector

The Urgent Care Association of America (UCAOA) and the Antibiotic Resistance Action Center (ARAC) at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University announced today that they are entering into a three-year partnership to make the urgent care industry a leader in antibiotic stewardship by reducing inappropriate antibiotic use in this outpatient setting — action that could help slow the growing threat of antibiotic resistance.

Antibiotic resistance is a serious public health threat that is on the rise — bacteria that are resistant to our best antibiotics continue to emerge. Reducing inappropriate antibiotic use in all settings, including human medicine and animal medicine is crucial to preserving the utility of these life-saving drugs. Given the rapid growth of the urgent care sector, which sees an estimated 160 million patients visits each year, urgent care centers have the opportunity to become leaders on antibiotic stewardship by developing and implementing evidence-based practices that will contribute to preserving the effectiveness of antibiotics for future generations.

“Last year, the White House set an ambitious but necessary goal of reducing inappropriate antibiotic prescribing rates in all outpatient settings by 50 percent by 2020,” said Dr. Sean McNeeley, treasurer of the UCAOA, president of the Urgent Care College of Physicians and network medical director of University Hospitals Urgent Care in Cleveland. “We want to do more than just our part in helping achieve this goal. We want to lead the way.”

Many urgent care patients seek convenient and affordable treatment of acute, infectious disease-related symptoms, such as cough and sore throat — illnesses that are often treated with antibiotics.

UCAOA and ARAC will combine their respective expertise to improve patient and clinician understanding of appropriate antibiotic use. Together they will develop patient education programs, implement training and education programs for both clinical and non-clinical staff, identify the most effective clinical decision support tools, collect in-depth data on antibiotic prescribing, implement evidence-based antibiotic stewardship practices and conduct research.

“We know that often patients demand antibiotics from their care providers even if a prescription is not warranted and if they don’t receive it, they will search out someone who will give them the prescription. At the same time, sometimes providers see giving patients antibiotics — even when not needed — an easy way to make patients happy, ” said Cindy Liu, MD, MPH, PhD, chief medical officer for ARAC. “Since urgent care sees a higher proportion of patients with acute symptoms than traditional primary care, their providers frequently deal with these issues, and we are excited that UCAOA has reached out to be part of the solution. We hope to begin by learning the best ways to communicate with patients that improves their understanding of when antibiotics are needed while also ensuring patients feel satisfied with their visits.”

Inappropriate antibiotic use is a major driver of antibiotic resistance worldwide. The World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have declared that we will soon face a “post-antibiotic” era unless there are significant reductions in inappropriate antibiotic use in all sectors.

Source: George Washington University

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