Role of antimicrobial restrictions in bacterial resistance control: a systematic literature review

Published:September 19, 2019DOI:



      Antimicrobial stewardship is considered as one of the most fundamental aspects of bacterial resistance control. Among the multitude of initiatives, restrictive strategies have been widely practiced in hospital settings. However, data concerning their potential effectiveness have not been methodically collected and evaluated to date.


      To identify, collect and evaluate the available evidence regarding the impact of restrictive policies on bacterial resistance in hospital settings.


      A systematic literature review was conducted using the PubMed/Medline, Embase, Global Health and CINAHL Plus databases.


      In total, 5555 papers were retrieved in the search process, and 29 studies were included in the final analysis. There were no randomized studies, and the inherent limitations of the observational designs employed impede the deduction of safe conclusions. Seemingly beneficial interventions encompass the restriction of broad-spectrum cephalosporins in favour of beta-lactam/lactamase inhibitor combinations as well as the restriction of fluoroquinolones. Antimicrobial restrictions might also play a role in the control of vancomycin-resistant enterococci, while carbapenem stewardship in the form of the preferred use of ertapenem did not produce the anticipated results. Complex restrictions are not offered for informative comparative analyses. Hospital-wide policies could perhaps be superior to those confined to high-risk departments. Carbapenem-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii might be difficult to control through solely formulary interventions.


      The presumably effective restrictive strategies rely mainly on inadequately tested hypotheses and low-quality evidence. Therefore, systematic, high-quality research is needed to confirm and expand comprehension of the subject so that the most successful policies are employed in the field.


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