Beating the bugs – using antibiotics wisely to get best results

One of the great advances in healthcare was the discovery of antibiotics – medicines that allow us to treat infections caused by bacteria.

At UHS we know that good outcomes depend on careful use of antibiotics – picking the right medicine each time, taking into account the individual patient and the bug causing the infection. Our microbiology doctors and pharmacists help our clinical teams make the right choices by writing guidelines, testing for infections and reviewing individual patients.

During November we had a special focus on antibiotics for European Antibiotic Awareness Day, 18 November.  This is a Europe-wide annual event that aims to raise awareness on how to use antibiotics in a responsible way that will help keep them effective for the future.

This is important because:

  • Antibiotics are losing their effectiveness at an increasing rate
  • Bacteria can adapt and find ways to survive the effects of an antibiotic. They become ‘antibiotic resistant’ so that the antibiotic no longer works. The more you use an antibiotic, the more bacteria will become resistant to it
  • It is important we use antibiotics in the right way at the right dose and at the right time to slow down the development of antibiotic resistance
  • There are very few new antibiotics in the development pipeline, which is why it is important we use our existing antibiotics wisely and make sure these life-saving medicines continue to stay effective for ourselves and future generations

We also used the month to celebrate some of the great work our doctors and pharmacists do –  an antibiotic prescribing X factor. Our pharmacy team nominated the following doctors who are champions in showing careful use of antibiotics – picking the right medicine, reviewing patients’ progress and stopping the medicine once the infection has resolved.

Dr Andy Curry, consultant in cardiac anaesthesia and cardiac intensive care; professor Michael Grocott, consultant in general adult intensive care; Dr Roger Lightfoot, consultant in neuro intensive care; and doctors in training Dr Sally Olsen, Dr William Rae, Dr Hannah Sinclair.

Our four champion pharmacists on good antibiotic use were: Claire Sheikh, specialist pharmacist in surgery, Dipesh Jilka, specialist pharmacist in ID/micro and Louise Graham, specialist pharmacist in trauma & orthopaedics and Sally Pearce in cardiology.

Congratulations to all.

Each one of us can play a part in good antibiotic use – for example, we need to be aware that infections caused by viruses will not respond to antibiotics so we should not expect to get a prescription every time we see our doctor. Also, when we do get prescribed antibiotics we should follow the instructions and finish the course.