Where antibiotics act only against bacteria, antimicrobials act against a wide variety of organisms. These include bacteria, parasites, viruses and fungi.
Similar to antibiotic resistance, the growing level of antimicrobial resistance is an increasing concern.
Antimicrobial stewardship is a set of coordinated measures designed to improve and measure the appropriate use of antimicrobials. This is done by promoting the optimal antimicrobial course of treatment, dosage, duration of therapy and way in which the medication is taken (for example, oral).
The key elements of antimicrobial stewardship are to ensure you:
- prescribe the right antibiotic, antiviral, antifungal for the patient - consider age, medical conditions, pregnancy, or long-term care resident
- choose the right dose, duration, and route for the condition you are treating
- cause the least amount of harm for the patient - consider drug interactions, allergy and toxicity
- cause the least amount of harm to future patients by increasing antimicrobial drug resistance
- do not prescribe for obvious self-limiting viral infections
- only use antibiotics for suspected bacterial infections
- promote use of immunisation to minimise infections
- practice good infection control to minimise the spread of infections
Read up to date guidelines at antibioticprescribing.ie. The website is supported by the HSE's Action on Antibiotics information campaign.
Antimicrobial stewardship resources:
- AMRIC Infection Prevention and Control online education learning programme including an accredited course on antimicrobial stewardship
- www.antibioticprescribing.ie – an in-depth resource for community based prescribers