Antimicrobial Stewardship

Antibiotics and other antimicrobial medications are critical tools for treating a number of common and life-threatening infections. 

When used appropriately, antibiotics save lives. But when antibiotics aren’t needed, they won’t help you – and the side effects could cause more damage than the original illness.

These side effects range from minor issues like rashes and yeast infections to severe problems including Clostridium difficile (C. diff) and drug-resistant infections, which are difficult to treat and potentially fatal.

Why It's Important

Each year in the United States, at least 2 million people are infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria, according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. At least 23,000 die as a result.

Bacteria become antibiotic resistant when they develop the ability to defeat the drugs designed to kill them. It is one of the most urgent threats to the public’s health. That’s why OSF HealthCare is committed to providing the right antimicrobial medication, at the right dose, at the right time, and for the right duration.

How It Works

Our antimicrobial stewardship program is led by two pharmacists specially trained in infectious disease treatment. They serve as a point of contact for pharmacists and providers throughout the Ministry.

These pharmacotherapists mentor and guide pharmacists at OSF HealthCare hospitals to perform targeted interventions including:

Drug-Bug Mismatch

As the medical community’s knowledge of antibiotics and the number of identifiable bacteria continues to grow, our understanding of how to treat bacterial infections is expanding.

Our experts are able to stay up to date on the most recent and relevant research to ensure our patients are receiving the most effective treatment.


The creation of broader and stronger antibiotics has given providers the ability to treat more infections than ever before. At the same time, use of these broad-spectrum, high-powered antibiotics increases opportunity for antibiotic-resistant bacteria to develop.

Patients receiving powerful, broad spectrum antibiotics are up to three times more likely to be infected by drug-resistant bacteria, according to the CDC. By using antimicrobial medications with a specific application, we can minimize the risk to our patients.

Duplicate Coverage

While some circumstances require multiple medications for effective treatment, research shows that using two antibiotics of similar activity can increase risk of adverse events.

A clinical infectious disease pharmacist can review medications used in combination and advise prescribers which combinations will be most effective and whether some medications can be safely eliminated.

Intravenous to Oral Conversions

Patients who receive antimicrobial medications orally, rather than through an IV, have better outcomes, including improved comfort and decreased length of stay.