This year, the COVID-19 pandemic has presented numerous additional challenges for health professional managing patients with infections. Now, more than ever we need to continue to work together to prevent serious infections, including COVID-19, whilst reducing inappropriate antibiotic use.
In order to avoid inappropriate antibiotic prescribing in the context of COVID-19, we recommend that healthcare professionals:
♦ Follow current NICE guidelines to infer if community acquired pneumonia has a COVID-19, viral or bacterial cause.
♦ Treat coughs, fever and breathlessness related to COVID-19 in line with new clinical guidance, not with antibiotics. Please consider the COVID-19 and Flu pathway for diagnosis, testing and clinical management.
♦ Explain to patients that antibiotics do not prevent or treat viral infections including COVID-19. Antibiotics can cause side-effects, including nausea and diarrhea. Antibiotics use can also increase the risk of spreading infections that are caused by bacteria resistant to antibiotics.
Things you can do to support antimicrobial resistance prevention this winter
1. Pledge to be an Antibiotic Guardian
In 2014, Public Health England (PHE) developed the Antibiotic Guardian Campaign and associated resources to provide educational resources to help tackle antimicrobial resistance in the UK. This was in collaboration with the Department of Health, Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD), the Devolved Administrations, Local Government and Professional Organisations.
The impact/evaluation study of Antibiotic Guardian demonstrated that the campaign increased commitment to tackling AMR in both healthcare professional and members of the public, increased self-reported knowledge and changed self-reported behaviour particularly among people with prior AMR awareness.
Choose your Antibiotic Guardian pledge via www.antibioticsguardian.com and encourage colleagues, family members and friends to do the same.
♦ As an Antibiotic Guardian champion, you can:
◊ Forward this toolkit to colleagues
◊ Continue to encourage colleagues/members, family, friends and patients to join over 85,000 individuals who have personally pledged an action to help to tackle antimicrobial resistance by choosing an organisation pledge at the Antibiotic Guardian website.
◊ Use social media and community networks to engage with diverse population groups to promote key messages on AMR throughout the winter season using #AntibioticGuardian and/or #KeepAntibioticsWorking. Social media images and messages are available here.
You are also invited to register your organisation’s planned AMR awareness activities via http://antibioticguardian.com/organisations/
2. Digital resources for sharing
Images, polls and messages have been developed by the subgroup of national planning group to be a supportive tool to encourage engagement with health care workers. They are designed to be suitable for primary and secondary care and for use by healthcare workers.
They are available here. We also encourage you to develop and share your own local messages. All messages are available in blue and yellow sticky notes and use different writing styles. They can be shared via WhatsApp, used as screen savers, email signature or social media.
Themes for sticky notes messages
◊ Start Smart – then Focus
◊ Empiric prescribing
◊ Course length
◊ Patient safety
3. Use the TARGET Antibiotics Toolkit
The TARGET Antibiotics Toolkit is designed for healthcare professionals in all primary care/community settings. A range of leaflets for patients is available from the Royal College of General Practitioners TARGET Antibiotics Toolkit page.
♦ TARGET leaflets to share with patients including leaflets on UTI, respiratory tract infections and other useful leaflets.
♦ TARGET links to posters and videos which can be displayed in clinical and waiting areas.
♦ TARGET audit templates for acute cough, otitis media, acute rhinosinusitis, acute sore throat and UTI.
♦ TARGET self-assessment checklist to see how your current prescribing practice compares to others in your region and nationally. Page also contained templates for action planning to improve practice.
♦ TARGET training resources – free training resources aim to provide up to date information and an evidence base to support optimal antibiotic prescribing. They will also help prescribers meet CPD and revalidation requirements.
4. Utilise the PHE “Keep Antibiotics Working” resources
In 2017, PHE launched a national campaign ‘Keep Antibiotics Working’ across England to support the government’s efforts to reduce inappropriate prescriptions for antibiotics by raising awareness of the issue of antibiotic resistance and reducing demand from the public using TV, radio and social media. Keep Antibiotics Working (KAW) raises awareness of antibiotic resistance amongst the general public and encourages greater trust in the advice from healthcare professionals when it comes to whether consumers need antibiotics or not.
The ‘Keep Antibiotics Working’ media campaign will not run on TV and radio in 2020, although resources are still current, available and free for healthcare professionals to download and use in local awareness campaigns, including during WAAW.