Specialist teams dedicated to safe and effective medication use
Anne Colreavy may need antibiotics for life to treat her complex infection.
"My doctor has flagged with me that I may have to stay on antibiotics for the rest of my life," the retired primary school principal said from her Sydney home.
Over the past two years, Anne has experienced severe back pain and fevers as a result of persistent bacterial infections of her spinal prosthesis.
"The infections have been treated with different antibiotics along the way. They seem to work for a short period of time but then I relapse, because the bacteria are still there," she said.
A multidisciplinary specialist team – the Concord Canterbury Antimicrobial Stewardship Initiative – is collaborating with Anne's medical team to improve her health.
The Antimicrobial Stewardship teams at Concord and Canterbury, and at RPA, are made up of doctors and pharmacists with expertise in infectious diseases and clinical microbiology who are dedicated to promoting the safe and effective use of antimicrobials.
A staff specialist in Infectious Diseases and Microbiology Dr Angie Pinto and clinical pharmacist Alex McNamara lead AMS at RPA, with colleagues Dr Tim Gray and Aryan Shahabi-Sirjani heading the team at Concord.
"We implement strategies to ensure the appropriate use of antimicrobials in our hospitals, to minimise any adverse effects for our patients and slow down the risk antimicrobial resistance," Mr Shahabi-Sirjani said.
This week is World Antimicrobial Awareness Week which aims to raise awareness about the importance of antimicrobials in treating and preventing infection.
The theme for 2020 is "United to preserve antimicrobials."
The World Health Organisation has declared that antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is one of the top 10 global public health threats.
AMR occurs when germs that can cause infections, such as bacteria, become resistant to medicines, such as antibiotics, that are used to kill them. AMR makes it harder to treat common infections and increases the risks of severe illness and death.
The AMS teams partner with treating medical teams, pharmacists and nurses to develop and implement local guidelines and standards for antimicrobial use.
"By ensuring our patients receive the right antimicrobial to treat their condition, at the right dose, by the right route, at the right time and for the right duration, we can prevent antimicrobial resistance, toxicity and waste," Mr Shahabi-Sirjani said.
The AMS team has regularly reviewed Anne's case.
"We want to ensure that we preserve antibiotics so that patients like Anne can be treated appropriately. If we don't use antibiotics correctly we may see more resistance, which makes complex infections like Anne's difficult to treat," Mr Shahabi-Sirjani said.
"Key to this is following your doctors' instructions when prescribed antibiotics and not taking antibiotics when they're not prescribed for you."
For now, Anne is taking each day slowly.
"I'm okay at the moment. I'm taking one tablet a day and hoping that I'll stay well. They've found the best antibiotic to support me at this point in time," she said.