Antibiotic Stewardship

Antimicrobial Resistance and Antibiotic Stewardship

At least 28% of outpatient antibiotic courses prescribed each year are unnecessary, contributing to increases in antimicrobial-resistant (AR) infections and avoidable adverse events. Antibiotic stewardship is the effort to measure and improve how antibiotics are prescribed by clinicians and used by patients to ensure equitable access to high quality health care and to optimize treatment of infections and patient safety.

Health Department Activities

Prioritizing antibiotic stewardship efforts
State, local, and territorial health departments play a crucial role slowing the spread of antimicrobial resistance and improving patient safety by promoting appropriate antibiotic use, educating healthcare providers and a variety of partners on stewardship strategies, and assisting all healthcare settings in their communities with stewardship implementation needs.

As part of CDC’s Healthcare-associated Infections and Antimicrobial Resistance (HAI/AR) Program, health department HAI/AR Programs implement a wide range of antibiotic stewardship-related activities, such as:

  • Identifying and engaging antibiotic stewards in healthcare settings to improve stewardship implementation
  • Tracking and reporting antibiotic use throughout the jurisdiction, including equity-related variables that can highlight disparities
  • Coordinating stewardship programs and efforts with academic institutions, regulatory agencies, payors, healthcare systems, local health departments, and more
  • Monitoring opportunities to improve antibiotic prescribing in newer healthcare services, like telehealth visits


Through supplemental funding provided by the American Rescue Plan Act, CDC awarded health departments with additional funding to increase access to stewardship leadership and expertise, strengthen existing antibiotic stewardship activities, address inequities in stewardship support, and more.

Resources for Health Departments