Lompoc Valley Medical Center has received the California Department of Public Health’s highest award level for its efforts to encourage the appropriate use of antimicrobials.
LVMC was awarded the Gold status on CDPH’s Healthcare-Associated Infections AntimicrobialStewardship Honor Roll. An antimicrobial is an agent that kills microorganisms or stops their growth. Antimicrobial medicines can be grouped according to the microorganisms they act against. The World Health Organization notes that because of their widespread availability, generally low cost, and relative safety, antimicrobials are among the most misused of all medicines.
California has enacted some of the most stringent regulations requiring hospitals to have strong antimicrobial stewardship, as misuse and overuse of antimicrobials is considered to be a major worldwide public health problem.
“Thank you for developing a strong program that can serve as a model for others and for engaging the community,” the CDPH award notes.
Achieving the top honor involved a three-phase process by the CDPH, including evaluating a program’s quality and impact.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that each year in the U.S., at least 2 million people acquire serious infections with bacteria that are resistant to one or more of the antibiotics designed to treat those infections. It is estimated by the National Institutes for Health that at least 23,000 people die annually as a result of those antibiotic-resistant infections. Generally, antibiotic-resistant infections require prolonged or costly treatments, extend the length of hospital stays, require more than typical healthcare appointments, and result in greater illness and death rates compared to infections that are easily treatable with antibiotics.
Having good antimicrobial stewardship is a quality improvement initiative. It has proven in studies to:
- Improve patient outcomes
- Shorten a patient’s length of stay in the hospital
- Reduce Clostridium difficile (a life-threatening inflammation of the colon)
- infection rates
- Reduce antimicrobial resistance
- Decrease hospital costs
Stewardship programs help ensure that when antibiotics are needed, they’re used appropriately. Because of that, one of the elements of LVMC’s Antimicrobial Stewardship program involved having physicians at Lompoc Health – North H Center and Lompoc Health – North Third Center sign a pledge to prescribe antibiotics only when it is deemed medically necessary for patients. While antibiotics can be lifesaving, bacteria have become more and more resistant to drugs. The signs, with the physicians’ photos, are hanging in clinic patient rooms.
For the review of the outcomes portion of the LVMC program prior to the Gold status award, the CDPH engaged external blinded reviewers along with CDPH internal reviewers. The external reviewers consisted of antimicrobial stewardship experts representing different facility types: community, academia, major teaching, and community with special populations. They reviewed each outcomes section similarly to how one would review a scientific abstract looking for effective interventions and programs. For the third phase of the review process, each applicant’s program was reviewed and rereviewed in its entirety, evaluating each program’s quality and impact beyond marking elements on a checklist.