Doctors' smartphone app helps 'significantly reduce' hospital infections

Antibiotic stewardship team

A smartphone app developed by doctors in Southampton has helped to promote careful antibiotic prescribing and contributed to a “significant reduction” in cases of Clostridium difficile infection.

MicroGuide, developed by critical care expert Dr Sanjay Gupta, pharmacist Dr Kieran Hand, microbiologists Dr Adriana Basarab and Dr Ann Pallett and infectious diseases specialists Dr Sanjay Patel and Professor Saul Faust at Southampton General Hospital, provides concise information on common infections and which antibiotics are needed to tackle them.

The app, which was the first in the UK to offer infection treatment guidelines via mobile electronic devices at the bedside at the time of its launch in July 2011, offers alternative treatment options for patients with antibiotic-resistant infections.

Since its introduction, the app has supported a sustained reduction in prescribing of high-risk broad-spectrum antibiotics from 40% to 28%, coinciding – alongside successful infection prevention initiatives – with a fall in Clostridium difficile infections from 60 a month to less than 10.

“With many antibiotics currently prescribed and used for mild infections such as sore throats and colds, patients in hospital who develop complex infections such as kidney and bloodstream infections are increasingly infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria,” explained Dr Hand, who is a specialist in anti-infectives.

Dr Hand said the app, which acts as an “interactive library of microbiology expertise”, incorporates dosing calculators and advice on handling and resolving cases of MRSA, risk factors associated with Clostridium difficile and guidance on penicillin allergy.

He added: “MicroGuide provides expert guidance for medical staff at the point of care when treating patients with infection in situations not in their immediate area of expertise.

“The result is that this technology has had a major impact on clinical care, helping to significantly reduce prescribing of high-risk antibiotics and, in turn, the number of Clostridium difficile infections.”

The MicroGuide app software has subsequently been licensed to more than 30 NHS hospital trusts and downloaded free-of-charge by over 75,000 users.

As a result of its success, Dr Hand and the antibiotic stewardship team at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust were awarded the infection control prize of £50,000 at the annual NHS Innovation Challenge Awards earlier this week.

The prize money will be invested in the development of a novel decision-support system – the first of its kind in the NHS – to suggest bespoke treatment for individual patients with infection and anticipate and reduce antibiotic resistance, treatment failure and side effects.

 

Left to right in the photograph: Dr Ann Pallett, Dr Saul Faust, Dr Kieran Hand, Dr Sanjay Patel, Dr Adriana Basarab, Dr Marc Tebruegge

Posted on Friday 27 February 2015