Skip main navigation

What is AMS and why is it important?

This article discusses what antimicrobial stewardship (AMS) is and why effective programmes are mportant in reducing AMR.
team of doctors facing away from camera, in a white room
© BSAC

What is AMR?

Antimicrobial stewardship (AMS) is a coordinated programme that promotes the appropriate use of antimicrobials (including antibiotics), improves patient outcomes, reduces microbial resistance, and decreases the spread of infections caused by multidrug-resistant organisms.

Effective AMS programmes

Effective antimicrobial stewardship programmes can be financially self-supporting and improve patient care. Comprehensive programmes have consistently demonstrated a decrease in antimicrobial use (22%–36%), with annual savings of $200,000–$900,000 in both larger academic hospitals and smaller community hospitals.

A comprehensive, evidence-based stewardship programme to combat antimicrobial resistance includes some essential elements, such as:

1) A multidisciplinary AMS team, whose core members include:

List of core MDT members - clinical microbiologist, clinical pharmacist, information system specialist, hospital epidemiologist, infection control professional, and infectious disease physician

2) Collaboration between the AMS team and the hospital infection control/pharmacy and therapeutics committees (or their equivalents).

3) The support and collaboration of hospital administration, medical staff leadership, and local providers in the development and maintenance of the programme.

4) The infectious diseases physician and the head of pharmacy, as appropriate, should negotiate with hospital administration to obtain adequate authority, compensation, and expected outcomes for the program.

5) Hospital administrative support for the necessary infrastructure to measure antimicrobial use and to track use on an ongoing basis.

6) There are two core strategies, both proactive, that provide the foundation for an antimicrobial stewardship program. These strategies are not mutually exclusive.

Prospective audit with intervention and feedback Formulary restriction and pre-authorisation
Prospective audit of antimicrobial use with direct interaction and feedback to the prescriber, performed by either an infectious diseases physician or a clinical pharmacist with infectious diseases training, can result in reduced inappropriate use of antimicrobials. Formulary restriction and pre-authorisation requirements can lead to immediate and significant reductions in antimicrobial use and cost and may be beneficial as part of a multifaceted response to a nosocomial outbreak of infection.

The following elements may be considered and prioritised as supplements:

  • Education
  • Guidelines and clinical pathways
  • Antimicrobial cycling
  • Antimicrobial order forms
  • Combination therapy
  • Streamlining or de-escalation of therapy
  • Dose optimisation
  • Parenteral to oral conversion

7) Health care information technology in the form of electronic medical records.

8) Computer-based surveillance can facilitate good stewardship by more efficient targeting of antimicrobial interventions, tracking of antimicrobial resistance patterns, and identification of nosocomial infections and adverse drug events.

9) The clinical microbiology laboratory plays a critical role in AMS by providing patient-specific culture and susceptibility data to optimise individual antimicrobial management and by assisting infection control efforts in the surveillance of resistant organisms and in the molecular epidemiologic investigation of outbreaks.

10) Both process measures (did the intervention result in the desired change in antimicrobial use?) and outcome measures (did the process implemented reduce or prevent resistance or other unintended consequences of antimicrobial use?) are useful in determining the impact of AMS on antimicrobial use and resistance patterns.

From an international perspective, antimicrobial stewardship programs (ASP) are an important step in preventing resistance and optimising patient outcomes (WHO, 2019).

© BSAC
This article is from the free online

Antimicrobial Stewardship for the Gulf, Middle East and North Africa

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Our purpose is to transform access to education.

We offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life.

We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, so our courses offer the opportunity to discuss what you’re learning with others as you go, helping you make fresh discoveries and form new ideas.
You can unlock new opportunities with unlimited access to hundreds of online short courses for a year by subscribing to our Unlimited package. Build your knowledge with top universities and organisations.

Learn more about how FutureLearn is transforming access to education