COVID-19 Mixed Impact on Hospital Antimicrobial Stewardship Activities: A Qualitative Study in UK-Based Hospitals

Sidra Khan, Stuart E. Bond, Mina Bakhit, Syed Shahzad Hasan, Ahmed A. Sadeq, Barbara R. Conway, Mamoon A. Aldeyab

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Abstract

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a well-known global threat due to the subsequent increase in antimicrobial usage. Several antimicrobial stewardship (AMS) strategies have been implemented to curb irrational prescribing and reduce the AMR burden. However, since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has enormously impacted the healthcare system and jeopardized public health, causing millions of deaths globally. Our semi-structured qualitative study aimed to explore the impact of COVID-19 on AMS activities in the UK hospitals. Seventeen interviews were conducted with health care professionals who were part of AMS teams (consultant medical microbiologists, infectious disease consultants, antimicrobial pharmacists). Interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed. An inductive thematic framework was adopted to analyse and create the themes. After agreement of the hierarchical framework definition, all transcripts were coded accordingly. Four main themes and 15 sub-themes were identified. These main themes were: (1) AMS activities or strategies before and during the pandemic; (2) challenges to implementing AMS activities before and during the pandemic; (3) information from public authorities on AMS during the pandemic; and (4) new AMS activities/strategies adopted during the pandemic. Staff vacancies, redeploying of AMS staff to other duties and meeting the burden related to the COVID-19 and lack of resources were the most frequently identified contributing factors to withheld AMS activities during the pandemic. However, modifications to the hybrid working environment, i.e., remote or flexible working, allowed for resumption of AMS activities including virtual ward rounds, virtual meetings and other activities. Further research needs to assess the impact of the hybrid delivery system on AMS activities.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1600
JournalAntibiotics
Volume11
Issue number11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 11 Nov 2022

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