Tamsin Oswald, clinical microbiologist, infection control doctor and trust clinical lead for antimicrobial stewardship (AMS) explains her role for Antibiotic Awareness Week
My job is to support and oversee the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of illnesses caused by viruses, fungi and parasites, and identify the ways to treat and manage infected patients. I also give advice on the best samples to collect to diagnose an infection and work with the biomedical scientists in the lab to pinpoint the guilty bug(s). As lead for AMS, I also make sure antibiotics are prescribed and used appropriately.
One of my roles is to raise awareness of the importance of prescribing antibiotics only when clinically advised, making sure the right antibiotic is prescribed at the right time, for the right duration. We provide our staff with the tools to be able to prescribe antibiotics safely and effectively, ensuring patients receive the best treatment possible with the least risk of unwanted side effects and impact on the spread of antibiotic resistance.
Antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to global health. This occurs naturally, but misuse of antibiotics is accelerating the process. Antibiotics are an essential component of modern medicine, without them we would not be able to perform joint replacement, transplants or treat cancers. However, it is not too late to reduce the impact of antibiotic resistance if we act now.
World Antibiotic Awareness Week provides an opportunity to discuss the challenges around improving the way in which we prescribe antibiotics and how we can work together to address these challenges to preserve the use of antibiotics for our generation and beyond.
What can everybody do?
- Don’t ask for antibiotics to treat cold and flu symptoms
- Take antibiotics exactly as prescribed
- Never use left-over antibiotics
- Never share antibiotics
- Prevent infections by:
- regularly washing your hands
- avoiding close contact with sick people
- keeping your vaccinations up to date
- Spread the word
Since the outbreak of the pandemic, we have seen a big change in our department and have set up multiple new machines to do all the Covid-19 testing. To reduce the risk of infection, we no longer visit wards as we used to do, so all consultations are now conducted virtually, which is also the case for teaching sessions.
Despite the challenges we have seen in our roles due to Covid-19, the team have done an amazing job in working through it all together and still with a smile on our faces.