Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is considered by the World Health Organization (WHO) to be one of the three most serious problems facing human health. Infections with antimicrobial resistant organisms are complicated and expensive to treat and may lead to significant morbidity and mortality. While antimicrobial resistance in Australia has not been quantified, in the United States, up to two million people annually contract infections due to antimicrobial resistant organisms and around 23,000 die as direct result and similar impacts are noted elsewhere. Infection transmission and subsequent use of antimicrobials are key drivers of the development of AMR. The literature demonstrates that up to half of antibiotics used in Australia are used inappropriately, which contributes to AMR.
Infection control practitioners bring specific expertise and should be part of a multidisciplinary antimicrobial stewardship program that is supported by clinicians with professional expertise in antimicrobial use (infectious diseases physicians, pharmacists and microbiologists). This expertise may be provided onsite, or as part of a network or group arrangement.
Infection control practitioners can participate in AMS through:
- advising on appropriate governance structures for AMS.
- a patient-centric approach to managing risk.
- making current endorsed therapeutic guidelines on antimicrobial prescribing readily available.
- participating in multidisciplinary antimicrobial stewardship committees that include infectious diseases physicians, general practitioners, pharmacists, microbiologists, and nurses.
- educating healthcare workers on infection prevention and control strategies to minimise risk and transmission of antimicrobial resistance, including safe and appropriate antibiotic use.
- advising healthcare workers on appropriate specimen collection procedures, different types of microbes and infections, and local resistance patterns
- undertaking surveillance of antimicrobial-resistant organisms, healthcare-associated infections, and in some circumstances, surveillance of antimicrobial usage and appropriateness.
- reporting and providing feedback to teams on surveillance data.