Outpatient parenteral antimicrobial therapy (OPAT) is an important, yet often underutilized, component of antimicrobial stewardship programs designed to provide medically stable patients who require intravenous (IV) antibiotics with the care they need in an outpatient setting, rather than requiring them to stay in a hospital or facility for the entire duration of their treatment.
Appropriate utilization of OPAT programs provides several benefits, including reduced costs, lower readmission rates, shorter length of stay (LOS), and improved patient satisfaction by allowing patients to return to their homes to recover in a more comfortable setting. Dedicated OPAT programs have historically been available at large academic institutions and health care systems.
A Lack of Infectious Diseases Expertise Can Lead to a Subpar OPAT Program
Currently, 80%1 of U.S. counties have no access to an infectious diseases (ID) physician. An OPAT Program requires day-to-day oversight, lab monitoring, cultures, therapeutic adjustments, and infectious diseases expertise to effectively manage each patient’s care, which can vary greatly depending on the patient’s condition.
For many local providers, this type of specialized antibiotic oversight falls outside of their typical scope and can potentially provide a less effective treatment plan for the patient, leading to excess readmissions, poor outcomes, and increased operating expenses.2