Intermountain implemented a large-scale antibiotic stewardship initiative across our 38 urgent care clinics in June 2019. The goal: reduce the number of antibiotics given for acute respiratory illnesses, which is among the most common illnesses diagnosed in the urgent care setting.

At the time, more than 50 percent of patients with a respiratory illness were given an antibiotic, even though antibiotics often weren’t warranted. This was troubling since overprescribing antibiotics can lead to growing resistance to these important drugs, with sometimes severe side-effects to patients.

As of July 2020, Intermountain urgent care clinics are prescribing antibiotics to only 29 percent of patients with respiratory complaints—a 42 percent reduction. More than 32,000 unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions weren’t written in the last year, resulting in more than 225,000 days of antibiotic therapy avoided.

“Our urgent care clinics have done an amazing job incorporating antibiotic stewardship best practices into their workflow, leading to these quite frankly stunning results,” said Eddie Stenehjem, MD, Intermountain’s medical director of antibiotic stewardship.

It’s one of the largest reductions in antibiotic prescribing ever seen in an antibiotic stewardship program anywhere, he adds.

“Because of the hard work of our urgent care teams, our community will be safer and ultimately healthier,” said Dr. Stenehjem. “This is a win all around.”

Read more about this initiative here.