Posted on September 8, 2016
The pharmacist has central role in helping to arrest the creation of the antibiotic-resistant superbugs that have appeared in hospital environments, often with life-threatening consequences according to an article in Pharmacy Times.1
The article notes that pharmacists present information to patients, promote immunizations, prevent the incorrect use of antibiotics for conditions brought on by viruses, and work collaboratively with the rest of the hospital, playing a large role in implementing antimicrobial stewardship (AMS) initiatives.
Patients without an adequate understanding of the importance of taking full courses of antibiotics may stop taking their pills when they feel better. Patients not vaccinated against bacterial infections will run the risk of requiring those infections to be treated with powerful antibiotics later on, increasing the risk of creating antibiotic-resistant strains. Patients administered antibiotics in an attempt to fight a viral infection run the risk of making extant bacteria in their systems stronger. The pharmacist, armed with correct information and the ability to educate patients, can be instrumental in turning these simple but potentially dangerous patient behaviors around.
Technology can be used to identify potential places where antimicrobial stewardship can be improved. It can alert a caregiver about an incorrectly prescribed antibiotic, allow pharmacists to double-check that an antibiotic is the correct one for a condition, and enable hospitals to get a full view of how antibiotics are being prescribed throughout their enterprises. But the efficacy of an AMS program, no matter how technologically sophisticated, depends on human behavior.