Antimicrobial stewardship (AMS) is the term used to describe the activities, strategies and coordinated interventions designed to optimise antimicrobial use. AMS is used by hospitals and health organisations to promote quality use of antimicrobials:
- Using antimicrobials only when needed - avoiding use where there is no evidence of benefit
- Selecting antimicrobials wisely - using narrow spectrum therapy where possible, keeping broader-spectrums agents in reserve
- Using safe and effective doses - using correct doses and limiting duration to what is needed according to evidence.
Key benefits of effective AMS programs include improved patient care, more appropriate use of antimicrobials and reduced risk of adverse consequences associated with antimicrobials, including the development of antimicrobial resistance.
Antibiotics have greatly reduced morbidity and mortality due to infection since their discovery. Given the societal value of antimicrobials and diminishing effectiveness due to antimicrobial resistance, the CEC works with NSW local health districts and speciality health networks to facilitate and support:
- Use of clinical guidelines consistent with Therapeutic Guidelines: Antibiotic
- Use of formulary restriction and approval systems for antimicrobials
- Monitoring and feedback on antimicrobial prescribing
- Provision of information by clinical microbiology laboratories to guide quality use of antimicrobials.