Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City (SSMC). The antimicrobial tool launched by SSMC aims to shed much-needed light on the dangers of mismanagement and over-prescription of antibiotics. Image Credit: Supplied.

Abu Dhabi: Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City (SSMC) has launched a point-of-care tool for antimicrobial management to promote the appropriate use of antimicrobial agents and reduce the burden of antimicrobial resistance.

The tool also aims to shed a much-needed light on the dangers of the mismanagement and over-prescription of antibiotics, the hospital said in a statement on Tuesday.

“Antimicrobial resistance is one of the biggest public health challenges of our time. Nearly five million deaths associated with bacterial AMR were reported in 2019 alone, based on a recent study by ‘The Lancet’,” said Dr Zahir Babiker, consultant physician at SSMCs Division of Tropical and Infectious Diseases.

“AMR occurs when germs present in the human body stop responding to the medications designed to kill them. As a result, germs such as bacteria, fungi, parasites and viruses continue to grow and pose a serious risk to the lives of people who are harbouring those germs. Therefore, careful use of antimicrobial agents such as antibiotics is important and requires educating people and persuading clinicians to follow an evidence-based approach for prescribing antibiotics,” he explained.

Avoiding unnecessary prescribing of antibiotics

Over-prescription of antibiotics is a major factor contributing to the increase in antimicrobial resistance. Antibiotics are often over-prescribed in situations where people actively pursue a prescription, or where doctors are not recommending alternatives or are fearful of reprisals if they withhold them. These behaviours often drive a culture promoting unnecessary prescribing of antibiotics.

“The key reason we introduced the antimicrobial management tool at SSMC is to educate our clinicians and improve their access and utilisation of antimicrobial management guidelines. It integrates our guidelines into a user-friendly interface on mobile and web applications. It also gives our medical practitioners quick access to the best quality information that is continuously updated with the most recent antimicrobial management guidelines to support informed decisions that will improve patient outcomes,” said Dr Farin Foroodi, internal medicine consultant in SSMC’s Division of Internal Medicine.

Reducing antimicrobial resistance

Antimicrobial resistance transforms illnesses that are characteristically simple to treat into infinitely more complex cases. The Tropical and Infectious Diseases team at SSMC are commited to antimicrobial stewardship, which promotes the appropriate use of antimicrobials to improve patient outcomes, reduce antimicrobial resistance, and decrease the spread of infections caused by multidrug-resistant organisms.

The new platform provides SSMC clinicians with up-to-date guidance on antimicrobial treatment choices, local patterns of AMR and drug-specific information on antimicrobial agents to ensure their safety and efficacy. It also offers an opportunity to connect and share experiences with a valued network of infectious diseases specialists from across the globe.

It’s not a one-size-fits-all

“We still have a long way to go to raise awareness and educate the broader public about the seriousness of AMR and that antibiotics are neither a one-size-fits-all solution nor the only solution. We are optimistic that with antimicrobial management tools we can equip ourselves with the information we need to devise the best care plans for our patients, including those infected with resistant germs,” Dr Babiker said.

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The SSMC is Abu Dhabi’s largest public hospital and one of the largest hospitals for serious and complex care in the UAE. It is operated under a joint venture between Abu Dhabi public health provider, the Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (Seha), and Mayo Clinic, a US-based health provider that specialises in research.