News release: Data show progress in Minnesota hospitals’ adoption of antibiotic stewardship practices

News Release
November 20, 2019

Contact information

Data show progress in Minnesota hospitals’ adoption of antibiotic stewardship practices

Three times as many hospitals followed guidelines in 2018 compared to 2015

New data from a national reporting system show significant progress in the number of Minnesota hospitals implementing important antibiotic stewardship practices that improve antibiotic use and slow development of antibiotic resistance.

In 2018, 76% of Minnesota hospitals reporting to the National Healthcare Safety Network met all core elements of antibiotic stewardship outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), compared to only 24% of Minnesota hospitals in 2015.

In 2014, CDC established guidelines for hospitals on the most essential components of an antibiotic stewardship program. These strategies have been shown to improve prescribing and treatment practices and reduce negative impacts of antibiotic use.

“Antibiotic resistance is one of our most urgent public health threats, so it’s very encouraging to see more hospitals adopting these best practices,” said Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm. “The steps being taken by Minnesota hospitals to improve their stewardship programs help ensure that all of us will have effective antibiotics when we need them.”

Despite the good progress, Malcolm noted that more work is needed to improve antibiotic stewardship in the state. Nationally, 85% of reporting hospitals met all seven core elements of antibiotic stewardship in 2018. Minnesota has a larger proportion of critical access hospitals – those hospitals serving smaller, rural communities – than many other states. Implementing broad programs for antibiotic stewardship can be a greater challenge for these hospitals with limited resources. Recent efforts have resulted in 74% of those hospitals (up from 47% last year) meeting the core elements, compared to 73% nationally for critical access hospitals.

“These efforts are closing the gap,” Commissioner Malcolm said. “We must continue to help all hospitals fully adopt best practices for antibiotic stewardship.”

Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria change and stop responding to the drugs designed to kill them. Once bacteria develop resistance to antibiotics, they can be much more difficult to treat. According to CDC, antibiotic-resistant bacteria and fungi cause more than 2.8 million infections and 35,000 deaths in the U.S. each year.

Essentia example

Essentia Health, serving patients in Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, and Idaho, is one example of an integrated health care system successfully implementing an antibiotic stewardship program.

Essentia Health customizes antibiotic stewardship practices in each facility, since there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Activities such as e-learning modules, site visits, and antibiotic tracking and reporting have resulted in system-wide improvements in quality of patient care, communication among health care personnel, and access to educational resources to fight the problem of antibiotic resistance.

“Because anyone can become a patient at any time, we promote antibiotic awareness among all providers, staff, volunteers, patients, families and visitors,” said Stephanie Nixon, antimicrobial stewardship program manager at Essentia Health. “We aim to make sure everyone has the information they need to be good antibiotic stewards at work, at home and in their community.”

Antibiotic stewardship should be practiced in all settings where antibiotics are used, including in hospitals, long-term care, outpatient clinics and in veterinary settings.  For more examples of the work being done by hospitals and long-term care facilities across the state, visit the Minnesota Antibiotic Stewardship Honor Roll.

What you can do

Gov. Tim Walz proclaimed the week of November 18-24 as Antibiotic Awareness Week in Minnesota to raise awareness of the problem of antibiotic resistance and the urgent need to address it through appropriate antibiotic prescribing and use. Here are some things that everyone can do to help:

  • Prevent infections through handwashing, vaccination and food safety.
  • Ask your health care provider how you can get symptom relief when antibiotics are not needed.
  • Take antibiotics exactly as prescribed, never save antibiotics for the next time you get sick and never take antibiotics prescribed for someone else.
  • Never pressure your health care provider or veterinarian to prescribe antibiotics.
  • Properly dispose of leftover medications at a take-back box. Do not throw them away or flush them down the toilet or drain. Information on proper disposal can be found at the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency website.

Additional data can be found in the Healthcare-Associated Infections in Minnesota Acute Care Hospitals 2018 Annual Report on HAI Data and Statistics.

To learn more about antibiotic resistance and antibiotic stewardship, visit the MDH Antimicrobial Resistance and Stewardship website.


Media inquiries:

Doug Schultz  
MDH Communications