Gauteng Business News

Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  16 Nov 2016

HEALTH: Curbing the Antibiotic Resistance Health Threat in a Hospital Setting


Recent Gauteng Business News

Antibiotics and other antimicrobial medicines are among the most misused of all medicines globally. The misuse of these medicines has precipitated one of the biggest threats to global health today – antimicrobial resistance – which is leading to longer hospital stays, far higher medical costs and increased mortality.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) antibiotic resistance is accelerated by the misuse and overuse of antibiotics, as well as poor infection prevention and control practices. Antibiotic resistance happens when bacteria become resistant to antibiotics used. It compromises our ability to treat infections. The WHO World Antibiotic Awareness Week aims to increase awareness of antibiotic resistance and to encourage best practices amongst the general public, all health workers and policy makers to avoid the further emergence and spread of antibiotic resistance. The theme is “Handle Antibiotics With Care”. Steps can be taken at all levels of society to reduce the impact and limit the spread of resistance.

Shirley Leadbeater, National Pharmacy Practice Manager for the Life Healthcare Group says that the group has placed a strong focus on tackling this threat in their hospitals. In 2011 Life Healthcare implemented an Antimicrobial Stewardship (AMS) Programme to ensure its hospitals act responsibly with regard to the use of antibiotic medicines. The healthcare group’s approach is aligned to the National Department of Health’s AMR National Strategy Framework 2014 – 2024 in response to the World Health Assembly’s endorsement of a global action plan to tackle antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

Now in its fifth year, Life Healthcare’s AMS programme is a co-ordinated and sustainable response to dealing with antimicrobial resistance. The programme implements internationally recognised, evidence-based interventions aligned to current best practice in hospital care, and is also aimed at having a positive impact on clinical outcomes as well as patient safety.

Although antimicrobial resistance is a global issue, it must be tackled at a local level. It takes focussed effort at an individual hospital to alter antimicrobial utilisation and impact on pathogen resistance. Multifunctional review of antimicrobial utilisation through Life Healthcare’s AMS programme as well as robust infection prevention practices are in place across the group’s hospitals and healthcare facilities to effectively manage the issue.

“There are multiple drivers of antimicrobial resistance which have a major impact in a hospital setting. A doctor led, multidisciplinary approach in each hospital is key to the success of an AMS programme to ensure that dynamic and wide-spread practises are in place to minimise pathogen resistance while providing quality patient care,” says Leadbeater.

Life Healthcare’s AMS Programme is therefore a collaborative effort between doctors, pharmacists, microbiologists, infection prevention specialists, pharmacists, nurses and other healthcare professionals. Our pharmacists play a key role in driving and influencing the implementation of the hospital antimicrobial resistance strategy.

“Pharmacists are the primary custodians of medicines and as part of the multidisciplinary healthcare team, focus on evaluating patient medication treatment to assist in achieving the best possible clinical outcomes and championing stewardship. The value of their in depth knowledge of pharmacology and pharmacotherapy has globally proven to be valuable in the hospital environment,” she says.

Life Healthcare believes the core elements to a successful AMS Programme are:
· Leadership commitment,
· Comprehensive infection prevention and control,
· An effective multifunctional stewardship approach. AMS committees at hospital level with AMS doctor champions,
· Effective communication, and timely and regular reporting.

Hygiene measures are an all-important, yet often undervalued aspect to infection prevention as well. The easiest and most important method to prevent the transfer of bacteria that everyone can apply in healthcare settings is appropriate hand hygiene. This should be practised conscientiously by all healthcare workers, patients and hospital visitors alike. “Infection Prevention in Life Healthcare is taken extremely seriously and is a high priority for all hospitals, as one failure can transfer bacteria and increase the spread of hard to manage infections,” she explains.

Finally, patient education and provision of information and counselling are important in keeping antibiotic resistance in check. “All parties - the patient, the doctor and the entire multifunctional team should be aware of how their behaviour impacts this growing threat and how we can work together to prevent antibiotic resistance from spiralling out of control,” she concludes. Together we can make a difference – preserving the miracle of antibiotics is a team effort.

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