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19 November 2014

Experts working together to prevent antibiotic resistance

Three clinical teams at University Hospitals Bristol (UH Bristol) have been working together to combat the overuse of antibiotics in the Trust. Staff from pharmacy, microbiology and infection control have been using their expertise to ensure patient's medication is managed to reduce the risk of infection and unnecessary prescribing of antibiotics.

European Antibiotic Awareness Day on November 18, draws much needed attention to this important initiative and UHBristol celebrated the success of their current processes and commitment to sharing best practice in this field.

Emily Marshall, lead antiinfectives pharmacist, said: "Although European Antibiotic Awareness Day only happens once a year, we work very hard throughout the whole year to ensure we control the use of antimicrobials. Simple measures can produce fantastic results and with a united team approach, we have seen antimicrobial prescribing at UHBristol improve dramatically over the past few years."

Patients who are prescribed broad spectrum antibiotics can be at a higher risk of getting other infections. Clostridium difficille (C. diff), a bacterial infection that can affect the digestive system is more likely to present itself if a course of antibiotics is prescribed. The Trust works hard to ensure patients get the most effective antibiotics when needed and don't get unnecessary antibiotics when not needed, to reduce the risk of serious infections like C. diff developing and spreading. Patients who are on intravenous antibiotics are also assessed regularly to see whether they can transfer to oral medication, reducing further risk of infection and increasing the likelihood and speed of discharge.

Joanna Hamilton-Davies, senior nurse infection control, said: "Taking antibiotics remains a common predisposing factor for Clostridium difficille infection. We work closely with the multidisciplinary teams to ensure antibiotic guidelines are being followed. We ensure all new staff, as well as current staff, are aware of the antibiotic protocols through update and induction training."

Richard Brindle, consultant microbiologist, added: "Microbiologists and pharmacists are routinely reviewing antibiotics on all the wards within the hospital. We use these rounds to make changes to treatment and to educate the staff about appropriate use of antibiotics. We are very concerned about the increase in antibiotic resistance and by controlling antibiotic use we hope we can slow down the spread of resistant microbes."