Antibiotic overuse is associated with adverse neonatal outcomes. Many medically underserved centers lack pediatric antibiotic stewardship program (ASP) support. Telestewardship may mitigate this disparity. Authors of this study aimed to determine the effectiveness and safety of a nursery-specific ASP delivered remotely.
Remote ASP was implemented in 8 medically underserved newborn nurseries using a stepped-wedge, cluster-randomized design over 3 years. This included a 15-month baseline period, a 9-month “step-in” period using random nursery order, and a 12-month postintervention period. The program consisted of education, audit, and feedback; and 24/7 infectious diseases provider-to-provider phone consultation availability. Outcomes included each center’s volume of antibiotic use and the proportion of infants exposed to any antibiotics. Safety measures included length of stay, transfer to another facility, sepsis, and mortality.
During the study period, there were 9277 infants born (4586 preintervention, 4691 postintervention). Infants exposed to antibiotics declined from 6.2% pre-ASP to 4.2% post-ASP (relative risk 0.68 [95% confidence interval, 0.63% to 0.75%]). Total antibiotic use declined from 117 to 84.1 days of therapy per 1000 patient-days (-28% [95% confidence interval −22% to −34%]. No safety signals were observed. Most provider-to-provider consultations were <5 minutes in duration and occurred during normal business hours.
The number of infants exposed to antibiotics and total antibiotic use declined in medically underserved nurseries after implementing a remote ASP. No adverse safety events were seen, and the remote ASP time demands were manageable. Remote stewardship may be a safe and effective strategy for optimizing antibiotic use in medically underserved newborn nurseries.