Antimicrobial Stewardship and Ontario Pharmacists


25 Aug 2022

The COVID-19 pandemic has fueled the ongoing global antimicrobial resistance (AMR) crisis due to the increase in the use of antibiotics to treat COVID-19 patients. AMR is when organisms evolve over time and no longer respond to antimicrobials (medicines), therefore making infections harder to treat. AMR can greatly increase the risk of disease spread and severe illness. In 2015, the World Health Organization developed an action plan on AMR to treat the “Systematic misuse and overuse of these drugs in human medicine and food production have put every nation at risk.”

Antimicrobial Stewardship and Public Health Ontario’s (PHO) interactive tool

Antimicrobial stewardship is critical to the battle against AMR, and promotes the judicious use of antimicrobials to limit the development of antimicrobial resistant organisms. Our newly updated Antimicrobial Stewardship Program (ASP) & AMR Comparison Tool provides an interactive report of ASP, antimicrobial use (AMU), and AMR data from across Ontario, and aims to support benchmarking and advancement of ASPs to help mitigate the impact of AMR in Ontario. The updates, based on a 2021 survey of Ontario hospitals as well as newly available AMU and AMR data from additional healthcare settings, include new features for data visualization of AMU data enabling trending over time, recent data on hospital ASP structure, strategies, and AMU and AMR data from hospital and non-hospital settings.

PHO supports the research and ongoing development of resources to implement and sustain antimicrobial stewardship across all health care sectors.

PHO’s antimicrobial stewardship team wins award

PHO’s antimicrobial stewardship team has been awarded the Canadian Pharmacists Journal’s (CPJ) 2021 Best Paper Award. Led by Valerie Leung and Julie HC Wu, our paper entitled Community pharmacist prescribing of antimicrobials: A systematic review from an antimicrobial stewardship perspective, was selected by the CPJ Editorial Advisory Board for its potential to positively impact pharmacy practice and lead to better patient care. This review helped to inform the Ontario College of Pharmacists Minor Ailments Advisory Group in developing the list of minor ailments for which pharmacists may treat. Once the program is implemented, pharmacists will be able to prescribe certain antimicrobials for uncomplicated UTIs, prevention of Lyme disease after high-risk tick bites and for treatment of cold sores. 

Additionally, an article led by Dr. Kevin Schwartz and co-authored by other PHO Infection Prevention and Control and Antimicrobial Stewardship experts, Effect of Antibiotic-Prescribing Feedback to High-Volume Primary Care Physicians on Number of Antibiotic Prescriptions, ranked among the top 10 articles in the Canadian Institutes of Health Research – Institute of Health Services and Policy Research (CIHR-IHSPR) and Canadian Association for Health Services and Policy Research (CAHSPR) 2022 Article of the Year Competition.

Ontario Pharmacists will soon be able to prescribe for Minor Ailments

Pharmacy professionals play a critical role in advising patients about antibiotics they may be taking, and how to reduce and prevent antimicrobial resistance. To help support the health care needs of Ontarians, and following similar initiatives in many other provinces, the Ontario government recently approved regulations enabling pharmacists across the province to prescribe medications for certain common, minor ailments. The date of implementation is scheduled for January 1, 2023.

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Published 25 Aug 2022