Improve Antibiotic Use

Antibiotic stewardship is the effort to measure and improve how antibiotics are prescribed by clinicians and used by patients.

Fast Facts

  • More than 2.8 million antibiotic-resistant infections occur in the United States each year, and more than 35,000 people die as a result.
  • Many prescribed antibiotics are inappropriate or unnecessary, including:
    • 30-50% of antibiotics prescribed in hospitals are inappropriate or unnecessary.
    • 40-75% of antibiotics prescribed in nursing homes are inappropriate or unnecessary.
    • 30% of antibiotics prescribed in doctor’s offices and emergency departments are unnecessary.
Evidence-Based Interventions

Improving antibiotic prescribing involves implementing effective strategies to modify prescribing practices to align them with evidence-based recommendations for diagnosis and management. CDC’s Core Elements of Antibiotic Stewardship offer healthcare providers and facilities a set of key principles to guide efforts to improve antibiotic use, advance patient safety, and improve outcomes. These frameworks complement existing guidelines and standards from key healthcare partner organizations, including the Infectious Diseases Society of America, Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America, American Society of Health System Pharmacists, Society of Infectious Diseases Pharmacists, and The Joint Commission.

Inpatient and nursing home intervention:

  1. Align antibiotic stewardship programs in all hospitals and long-term care facilities with CDC’s Core Elements of Hospital Antibiotic Stewardship Programs and The Core Elements of Antibiotic Stewardship for Nursing Homes.

 Outpatient intervention:

  1. Improve outpatient antibiotic prescribing by following CDC’s Core Elements of Outpatient Antibiotic Stewardship. Specific examples can include:

What You Could Do to Improve Antibiotic Use

Healthcare Providers


  • Perform audit-and-feedbackpdf icon by sharing data with healthcare providers on their antibiotic prescribing practices, particularly on quality measure performance, compared to their peers. CDC’s Improving Outpatient Prescribing: A Toolkit for Healthcare Payerspdf icon contains resources to get started on audit-and-feedback through measuring and tracking antibiotic use.
  • Incentivize providers to participate in continuing medical education and use quality improvement practices about appropriate antibiotic prescribing offered by professional societies, public health agencies, and other groups.
  • Include payment strategies for improved antibiotic use in healthcare provider and facility contracts.


  • Consider participating in organizations that examine doctors and hospitals based upon quality care measures, including appropriate prescribing practices for antibiotics.
  • Talk with your health plan provider to incorporate payment strategies for improved antibiotic use into provider contracts.
  • Encourage your insurance carrier to work with healthcare facilities or physicians that have antibiotic stewardship programs or have good prescribing practices in their organizations.