Dr. Marin Schweizer, Assistant Professor of General Internal Medicine and Epidemiology, has been awarded a 3-year, $912,000 VA Merit grant through Health Services Research and Development to potentially develop more reliable guidelines for prescribing indefinite oral antibiotics, also known as chronic antibiotic suppression (CAS). CAS can last anywhere from 6 months to 10 years and is often prescribed for infections resulting from hip, knee, or shoulder replacement surgery in order to prevent the infection from returning. Yet, overuse of CAS among low-risk patients who do not need the intense extended dosing can result in antibiotic resistance and life-threatening adverse events.
“It is harder to scale back current medical practices than it is to implement a new practice,” Dr. Schweizer said. “However, it has become increasingly important to stop unnecessary treatments, especially those that could result in adverse events among our patients.” Using the VA Merit grant, Dr. Schweizer will assess patient data from 120 VA hospitals to determine which types of patients do not need CAS. Her team will also interview doctors and nurses at 8 hospitals to determine how and why CAS is prescribed and how to change practice if needed. Modeling techniques will also be used to determine the most effective and cost-effective intervention that could reduce the overuse of CAS.