The growth of resistant bacteria negatively impacts over 2 million individuals in the U.S. annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and decreased pharmaceutical drug development exacerbates the problem. As these trends continue, the role of the antimicrobial stewardship pharmacist becomes increasingly more important.
According to the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP), pharmacists are vital to overseeing effective antimicrobial stewardship programs (ASPs) and enhancing patient health through greater understanding of antimicrobial infections and diseases. By integrating technology with current industry evidence, pharmacists can deliver optimal care while reducing infections and infection-associated expenditures.
Improving Utilization of Antimicrobial Agents
Recent federal mandates require greater focus on antimicrobial stewardship, elevating the responsibility of pharmacists to facilitate collaboration among health professionals and ensure proper use of antimicrobial agents. To improve antimicrobial-related patient care, programs and guidelines must promote the appropriate selection, dosage, monitoring and restriction of agents to reduce infection.
By developing high-performing ASPs and participating in multidisciplinary infection prevention programs and committees, pharmacists can reduce the transmission of infections in health facilities. Committees designed to oversee antimicrobial usage trends can also identify problem areas and design programs for improving clinician choices around the amounts and types of antimicrobial agents used for the various patient populations served. Monitoring and analyzing patient outcomes in ASPs allows pharmacists and committees to review policies and increase effectiveness, while improving outcomes. Ultimately, ASPs help minimize the impact of alarming antimicrobial resistance trends and reduce the expenses associated with it.
To achieve proper use of antimicrobial agents and adhere to federal and state mandates in a cost-effective manner, clinical electronic surveillance systems—such as Sentri7®—are increasingly leveraged to support proactive intervention. Real-time clinical decision support surveillance platforms like Sentri7 streamline processes and provide real-time monitoring of antimicrobial issues through a rules-based alerting system. For instance, if an inappropriate antimicrobial is ordered, pharmacists can intervene before the medication is administered.
A pharmacist’s role in antimicrobial stewardship encompasses various elements, but education is one of the most important. Empowering patients, health professionals and the public through a better understanding of resistance trends is paramount to reducing misconceptions about antibiotics, vaccines and infections.
Pharmacists enable patients and the public to enhance their care by providing information and counsel on proper use of and adherence to prescription drugs, storage and utilization of medications and additional infection prevention measures. As the most accessible health care professional, pharmacists are well positioned to engage the public around appropriate approaches to treat infections as well as communicate infection prevention measures. Public health awareness programs, based upon the management of infectious diseases, also encourage accurate use of antimicrobials, immunization adherence and proper infection prevention and control measures. Providing health professionals with access to educational forums and content that focus on antimicrobial use and resistance, sterilization procedures and aseptic techniques strengthen antimicrobial stewardship initiatives as well.