Decreasing the Peril of Antimicrobial Resistance Through Enhanced Health Literacy in Outpatient Settings: An Underrecognized Approach to Advance Antimicrobial Stewardship
© 2020, The Author(s). Globally, antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a serious problem causing 700,000 deaths annually. By 2050, AMR is expected to cause approximately 10 million deaths globally each year if allowed to increase at the present rate. Many individuals have limited knowledge regarding appropriate antibiotic use and AMR. Most antibiotic use occurs in the outpatient setting, with approximately 30% of antibiotics prescribed deemed unnecessary. Antimicrobial stewardship (AMS) is a means to reduce inappropriate antibiotic use and AMR. While existing AMS efforts generally focus on the inpatient setting, a significant gap is present in the outpatient setting. A common theme across various national action plans to reduce AMR is the need for education and awareness. The importance of communicating information in a manner easily comprehended by the patient in addition to productive clinician–patient dialogue cannot be overestimated. Enhancing the public’s and patients’ AMS health literacy is an underrecognized approach to help address AMR. We describe Four Core Elements of Enhancing AMS Health Literacy in the Outpatient Setting, utilizing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s framework: (1) leadership commitment, (2) intervention/action, (3) tracking/reporting, and (4) education/expertise. We call upon leaders in outpatient settings to embrace this approach to curb inappropriate antimicrobial use.
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School of Medicine
General Internal Medicine