The hospital field is playing a central role in a multistakeholder effort to prevent the advancement of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which is the subject of a White House forum today.

The growing threat of antibiotic resistance by dangerous strains of bacteria has been a concern of providers and regulators in recent years, prompting various responses.

In March, the White House released its action plan for dealing with the threat, and today's forum is a follow-up to that.

The work of four health systems to boost antibiotic stewardship were featured by the White House as examples of the numerous commitments made by various organizations and companies to the threat of antibiotic resistance.

Ascension Health, part of Ascension in St. Louis, is establishing antibiotic-stewardship programs in all of its hospitals, adopting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Core Elements of Hospital Antibiotic Stewardship Programs. Ascension will submit antibiotic use and resistance data to the CDC as well.

HCA, Nashville, Tenn., will develop and implement clinical decision support systems related to antibiotic use for speedier identification of improper use of antibiotics and subsequent action.

Intermountain Healthcare committed to reduce by 50 percent the inappropriate use of antibiotics in outpatient settings for upper respiratory conditions by 2020. Intermountain also will establish antibiotic stewardship programs in all its hospitals by 2017.

And Kaiser Permanente was called out for its support of antibiotic stewardship programs and guidance of prescribing practices, which include electronic alerts and order sets.

Another resource for hospitals, clinicians and patients can be found in a toolkit offered by the American Hospital Association's Physician Leadership Forum.

The threat of antibiotic use has affected Sylvia Burwell, secretary at Health & Human Services, both professionally and personally.

Based on statistics, she said at the forum, "this challenge is most upsetting." Two million people get antibiotic-resistant infections each year and there are 23,000 related deaths, she added. Burwell also noted that her uncle died from complications related to a MRSA infection contracted in April.

But she also said that the efforts that result from the action plan — including a $20 million federal prize for a rapid point of care diagnostic test — could prove successful.

Burwell described the forum as "an important and hopefully historic step to protect the health of our nation as well as our global community."

Look for more coverage of the White House forum tomorrow.