News Center for Dissemination & Implementation Infectious Disease

Symposium helps advance antimicrobial stewardship, infection prevention & implementation science

Written by Kim Furlow, communications director for the Institute for Public Health

The Center for Dissemination and Implementation (D&I) at the Institute for Public Health recently collaborated with WashU’s Division of Infectious Diseases to host a symposium on  Antimicrobial Stewardship, Infection Prevention and Implementation Science. The event at the Missouri History Museum was designed to show how implementation science can help advance antimicrobial stewardship, prevent infection and insure patient protection. Co-chaired by WashU Assistant Research Professor, Ginger McKay, PhD, and Associate Professor of Medicine, Jennie Kwon, DO, MSCI, the event convened more than 60 clinicians, D&I scientists and researchers and to explore the application of D&I science in order to help improve clinical practice in antimicrobial stewardship and infection prevention.

So, what IS antimicrobial stewardship? According to the CDC: “Antibiotic stewardship is the effort to measure and improve how antibiotics are prescribed by clinicians and used by patients. Improving antibiotic prescribing and use is critical to effectively treat infections, protect patients from harms caused by unnecessary antibiotic use, and combat antibiotic resistance.”

Both co-chairs agree that the time is now for deep discussion and sound strategy around antimicrobial stewardship. “My hope is that people feel inspired to learn more about implementation science and how it might benefit their own interests in infection prevention and stewardship,” said Ginger McKay, symposium co-chair.

Her partner organizer, Jennie Kwon adds, “There is so much potential for implementation scientists and infectious diseases practitioners to work together on topics that are incredibly relevant to patient care, and a great place to start is in work in infection prevention and antimicrobial stewardship.”

The symposium featured keynote presentations from Albert Einstein College of Medicine Associate Professor, Priya Nori, MD titled, “Advancing the practice of infection prevention & antimicrobial stewardship through implementation science.” Also presenting was Gonzalo Bearman, MD, MPH, the Richard P. Wenzel Professor of Medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University, who discussed “Implementing behavior change in healthcare epidemiology and antimicrobial stewardship…The worst that can happen is you fail”. Both speakers are editors of the new journal, Antimicrobial Stewardship & Healthcare Epidemiology.

I am very intrigued by implementation science as a better way to understand how to move ideas forward.

Symposium participant

Also presenting was WashU Assistant Professor of Occupational Therapy and Surgery, Kelly Harris, PhD, who presented “Understanding community impact: Examining the Implementation of COVID testing in schools.” WashU Assistant Professor of Surgery, Sarah Malone, PhD, gave a talk on “Communication, conflict and Data: Using facilitation training to optimize antibiotic prescribing for children”. Jonas Marschall, MD, who serves as Director of Infectious Diseases Epidemiology Research at Washington University also presented “First surveillance-then intervention: Insights on CAUTI from a national perspective”. CAUTI stands for “catheter-associated urinary tract infections.”

Event co-Chair McKay pointed out that symposiums like this are important to attend because (for instance) this particular event helped extend the field of implementation science into an area [microbial stewardship] where there is currently not much [implementation] work but, as McKay explains, there is potential for many mutual benefit in both of these fields. “This was very much a community event including participants from the St. Louis Veterans Administration, Missouri Baptist Hospital, and the BJC Healthcare system,” she added. “We hope to do it regularly.”

Co-chairs and participants all had positive things to say about the symposium’s impact. Kwon crystalized the point: “Our goal was to bring awareness of these benefits to operational research and public policy audiences. We hope people will utilize these tools to improve health care and patient outcomes.”