Did you realise that at least 50 per cent of antibiotic use in Irish hospitals is inappropriate? One of the foremost concerns in modern medicine is antibiotic resistance. Antibiotics are the first line of defence against many infections but overusing or misusing them can cause more harm than good.
The HSE Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) has published an updated set of expert guidelines, to promote rational antibiotic prescribing in Irish hospitals. The recommendations range from the relevant structures and personnel that should be in place in all hospitals, to specific interventions that should be considered once essential structures are in place. The guidelines, if adhered to, will save money in the long run.
The Guidelines for Antimicrobial Stewardship in Hospitals in Ireland aim to cut antibiotic resistance and improve patient safety. They represent huge savings as the costs associated with people being infected with a resistant bug, can be enormous. Antibiotic stewardship, which implies quality prescribing, is distinguished from antibiotic control, which implies limiting use. The primary rationale for antibiotic stewardship is the prevention or reduction of antibiotic resistance.
The guidelines recommend the appointment of teams of clinical microbiologists, infectious disease consultants and antimicrobial pharmacists in every acute hospital across the country. Approximately 20 hospitals already have antibiotic pharmacists in place and these hospitals have seen the biggest reductions in antibiotic use. This scheme has the potential to make a real difference in the fight against hospital infections. I welcome it with open arms.