Queensland’s antimicrobial stewardship program celebrates 5 years!

Monday, July 5, 2021

Happy Fifth Birthday to the Queensland Statewide Antimicrobial Stewardship Program (QSAMSP)!

That’s right - this month marks five years since Queensland established a telehealth-based antimicrobial stewardship program, providing a systematic approach to optimising antimicrobial use, minimising adverse events and decreasing the rate of antimicrobial resistance in Queensland’s remote health services.

The QSAMSP was established in 2016 by Dr Krispin Hajkowicz and from its outset was designed as a multidisciplinary team comprised of infectious diseases physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and program support officers. The team provide an array of services for Queensland Health staff, including a 24/7 hotline (1300 753 229) for advice on infections, antibiotics, and antimicrobial stewardship (AMS).

Current Clinical Director of QSAMSP, Dr Trent Yarwood, said the Queensland Statewide Antimicrobial Stewardship Program played a vital role in the preservation of antibiotics.

“Our goal is to unite Queenslanders to enhance the use of antimicrobials now and to preserve them for future generations by advancing clinical practice, education and research.

“I’m very proud of the work our team does in ensuring that people living in remote Queensland have access to the same sort of specialist infection advice that people who live in the city do”, Dr Yarwood continued, “Drug resistant infection is something that affects us all, and we know that people in the bush are at greater risk of being admitted to hospital with an infection.”

Rural generalist senior medical officer in Barcaldine, Dr Priscilla Aw-Yong praised the QSAMSP team, “Every call is a learning opportunity. The Statewide AMS team understands our region and provide advice taking our resources into account. Thank you so much to the team – we are all the better thanks to you!”

The team is also highly regarded for their online education sessions across a broad range of infectious diseases topics, including pneumonia, sepsis, and tropical infections,  “It has been wonderful to be able to draw on other teams’ expertise to provide a wide range of lectures, including rheumatic heart disease, dental infections, immunisation and antibiotic allergy”, said pharmacist, Dr Minyon Avent.

The team recently presented a joint education forum with the newly-created Statewide Infection Clinical Network on drug-resistance in urinary infections. QSAMSP have also developed a range of practical resources to help move clinicians from awareness to improved clinical practice, such as clinical resources on IV-Oral switch and antibiotic allergies, accreditation tools and templates, and audit and surveillance tools.

A major focus of the program in the last 12 months has been developing skills in infection and stewardship among nursing staff across Queensland. QSAMSP clinical nurse consultant Stephen Nocher said “connecting rural and remote nurses together, and providing education about drug resistance has been a big win for us in the last twelve months”.

Just in time for QSAMSP’s birthday on 5 July, new research published in the International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents has found the centralised support offered by QSAMSP can improve both adherence to guidelines and appropriateness of antimicrobial prescribing. 

The article found a multifaceted antimicrobial stewardship, like that offered by QSAMSP, resulted in  improvement in the quality of prescribing in remote health services. “The strength of utilising appropriateness of antimicrobial prescribing as a marker of judicious use, rather than usage data, is that it much better reflects good quality patient care,” Dr Avent, lead author of the study, said.

The study also found the use of telehealth-based models of AMS could be effective in improving prescribing in rural areas; an important finding for a state as large and dispersed as Queensland.

“While COVID-19 has been an enormous challenge for the entire health system, we have been able to use it as an opportunity to expand our hotline to 24 hours with the support of a number of other health services”, Dr Yarwood said, “We’re currently looking at how to make this change permanent so we can support not only the remote health services, but also assist the regional health services in managing COVID demands, as well as continuing to support better prescribing.”

For more information on the Queensland Statewide Antimicrobial Stewardship Program visit their QHEPS page (internal access only) or email statewide.ams@health.qld.gov.au

Current members of QSAMSP:

  • Dr Trent Yarwood, Clinical Director, Staff Specialist Infectious Disease Physician
  • Dr Kathryn Daveson, Staff Specialist Infectious Diseases Physician
  • Stephen Nocher, A/Clinical Nurse Consultant
  • Dr Minyon Avent, Advanced Pharmacist
  • Sahra Ashley, Senior Pharmacist
  • Gabrielle Grosfeld, Senior Pharmacist
Last updated: 5 July 2021