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The six-month pilot runs until April and an application has been submitted to the HSE seeking funding for nationwide roll-out.
Cork GP Dr Nuala O’Connor is heading up the pilot as ICGP Lead for the HSE Healthcare Associated Infection (HCAI) and Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Clinical Programme.
Dr O’Connor told the Medical Independent (MI) the project is a collaboration between the HSE, ICGP, Southdoc and D-Doc. It involves using antibiotics wisely and includes a patient and prescriber education programme, Dr O’Connor stated.
“We are not targeting individual GPs. It’s a group audit. We hope to show we’re prescribing less antibiotics per consultation compared to the same time last year,” Dr O’Connor explained.
Medical Director at D-Doc, GP Dr Mel Bates, said the rate of antibiotic prescribing per 1,000 population in Ireland is twice that of Scotland.
“Instead of wagging a finger at a GP under pressure and worn out and being made to feel guilty, this is there to support GPs to prescribe in a way they would like to prescribe,” said Dr Bates.
Southdoc Medical Director GP Dr Gary Stack has also welcomed the initiative.
The education programme for patients includes a 30-minute audiovisual recording played at treatment centre waiting areas; information on antibiotic prescribing played while patients are on hold during calls to treatment centres; and colourful stickers for children.
“We are specifically trying to target young adults and the parents of young children,” Dr O’Connor noted.
GPs have been given a booklet with “fast facts” on antibiotics and a mousepad detailing a green list of preferred and a red list of non-preferred antibiotics to prescribe.
A rapid cycle analysis audit tool has been installed on software to allow GPs to input information on whether or not an antibiotic was prescribed and the type of antibiotic supplied.
The project is not without its challenges, as a number of technical issues have been experienced during the pilot, according to Dr O’Connor.
“We’re learning a lot about what’s needed to improve systems to do effective antimicrobial stewardship in the community,” she added.