Antimicrobial stewardship (AMS)
Antimicrobial stewardship (AMS) is a systematic approach to improving antimicrobial use, with a view to improving clinical outcomes and minimising adverse events relating to their use, including the development of antimicrobial resistance. Effective hospital AMS programs have been shown to decrease inappropriate antimicrobial use, reduce the burden of multidrug-resistant organisms, and improve the safety and quality of patient care.
Along with infection prevention and control activities (such as hand hygiene, environmental cleaning and managing patients with infection or colonisation), AMS is considered a key strategy in SA Health Safety and Quality programs that focus on preventing and controlling healthcare associated infections. AMS is included as a standalone criterion in the National Safety and Quality Healthcare Service Standards (Standard 3.14).
The Australian Commission for Safety and Quality in Healthcare (ACSQHC) has introduced their AMS initiative in response to the standards, and is continuing to develop resources to assist hospitals in implementing AMS programs. The primary reference is the 2011 publication 'Antimicrobial Stewardship in Australian Hospitals'. The Safety and Quality Improvement Guide for Standard 3: Preventing and Controlling Healthcare Associated Infections has been developed to guide hospitals in preparing for accreditation.
In November 2014, the Antimicrobial Stewardship Clinical Care Standard was launched by the ACSQHC. This standard aims to ensure that a patient with a bacterial infection receives optimal treatment with antibiotics.
National Antimicrobial Utilisation Surveillance Program (NAUSP)
SA Health administers the National Antimicrobial Utilisation Surveillance Program (NAUSP) program funded by the Commonwealth through the ACSQHC. For more information on this, see NAUSP page.
AMS key components
The key components for AMS include:
- Policy directive to support AMS (PDF 274KB)
- Antimicrobial formulary management
- Guidelines on antimicrobial usage
- Education and feedback to the clinical workforce
- Surveillance of antimicrobial usage and resistance
- Consumer resources related to antimicrobial stewardship
For detailed information on these components, see the Key components for antimicrobial stewardship page.
Antimicrobial prescribing e-learning
The ACSQHC and NPS have developed a series of online learning modules for healthcare professionals to promote and support the responsible prescribing of antibiotics.
What SA Health is doing
SA Health has prepared an AMS self-evaluation toolkit (XLSX 49KB) to enable SA Health facilities to monitor improvements in effectiveness of their antimicrobial stewardship programs. This tool is able to be modified by the user to suit small or large hospitals.
The Antibiotic Awareness Week (AAW) campaign occurs annually in November. For further details regarding SA Health’s support of this campaign, see the AAW page.
For further information on antimicrobial stewardship contact SA Health's Infection Control Service.