The federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality is asking for Office of Management and Budget approval to collect information from industry stakeholders for a study to standardize antibiotic use in long-term care settings.

"Antibiotics are among the most commonly prescribed pharmaceuticals in LTC settings, yet reports indicate that a high proportion of antibiotic prescriptions are inappropriate," according to a notice that AHRQ published May 3 in the Federal Register.

Previous research has resulted in development of minimum criteria for the use of antibiotics in the long-term care environment, the agency of the Department of Health and Human Services notes. "The criteria have been tested, but their implementation and tests of validity have been limited."

Now, AHRQ will recruit 12 nursing homes--six to serve as treatment sites and six as control sites--for a more comprehensive study. Contractors Abt Associates Inc. of Cambridge, Mass., and the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, will conduct the research. Participating nurses and physicians will use specific criteria previously developed (Loeb, M., et al, 2001).

Researchers will review medical records to collect primary outcomes data to determine antibiotic prescribing. The budget for the three-year study is nearly $1 million. AHRQ's notice is available in the May 3 Federal Register at

--Joseph Goedert


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