Antimicrobial Stewardship Challenges in the Deployed Setting

Alice E. Barsoumian*, Amanda L. Roth, Steffanie L. Solberg, Ashley S. Hanhurst, Tamara S. Funari, Helen Crouch, Christopher Florez, Clinton K. Murray

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Introduction: Up to 34% of combat trauma injuries are complicated by infection with multidrug-resistant organisms. Overutilization of antibiotics has been linked to increased multidrug-resistant organisms in combat-injured patients. Antimicrobial stewardship efforts at deployed medical treatment facilities have been intermittently reported; however; a comprehensive assessment of antimicrobial stewardship practices has not been performed. Materials and Methods: A survey tool was modified to include detailed questions on antimicrobial stewardship practices at medical treatment facilities. A Joint Service, multidisciplinary team conducted on-site assessments and interviews to assess the status of antimicrobial stewardship best practices, with particular emphasis on antibiotic prophylaxis in combat injured, in the U.S. Central Command operational theaters. Limitations to implementing stewardship to the national standards were explored thematically. Results: Nine Role 1, 2, and 3 medical facilities representing the range of care were assessed on-site. A total of 67% of the sites reported a formal antimicrobial stewardship program and 56% of the sites had an assigned head of antimicrobial stewardship. No military personnel in theater received training on antimicrobial stewardship and laboratory assets were limited. Personnel at these sites largely had access to Joint Trauma System guidelines describing antimicrobial prophylaxis for combat injured (89%), yet infrequently received feedback on their implementation and adherence to these guidelines (11%). Conclusions: Antimicrobial stewardship programs in theater are in the early stages of development in theater. Areas identified for improvement are access to expertise, development of a focus on high-impact lines of effort, laboratory support, and the culture of antimicrobial prescribing. Risks can be mitigated through theater level formalization of efforts, expert mentoring through telehealth, and a focus on implementation and adherence and feedback to national guidelines.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E818-E824
JournalMilitary Medicine
Issue number5-6
StatePublished - 8 Jun 2020
Externally publishedYes


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