Telemedicine as an effective intervention to improve antibiotic appropriateness prescription and to reduce costs in pediatrics.
Implementation of antimicrobial stewardship program is a pivotal practice element for healthcare institution. We developed a remote infectious disease consultancy program via telemedicine in a high-specialized pediatric cardiac hospital. A consultation for antibiotic strategy for each patient was available via telemedicine in addition to biweekly discussion of all clinical cases. Aim of this study was to evaluate the impact of the remote stewardship program in terms of a) appropriateness of antibiotic prescription; b) incidence of multi-resistant infection; and c) cost. A 'before - after' study was performed comparing the period immediately before starting the program and one year after. There was a trend in the reduction of nosocomial infectious disease rate (9.5 vs 6.5 per 1000 person days), with a reduction in the overall antibiotic cost (25,000 vs 15,000 EUR) and in the average antibiotics packages used per admission (9 vs 6.7 packages). A significant reduction in the multi-drug resistant isolation rate was observed (104 vs 79 per 1000 person days, p = 0.01). In conclusion, the infectious disease meeting via telemedicine has been an effective tool for economic and professional development and multidisciplinary management of complex patients. The appropriate use of antibiotics reduced the multi-drug resistant bacteria selection, thus improving patient safety.