Antimicrobial resistance - information for pharmacists

As medicines experts, pharmacists have an important responsibility in helping to prevent antimicrobial resistance

Pharmacists play an important role in tackling antimicrobial resistance and supporting the principles of good antimicrobial stewardship 

Antimicrobial stewardship is a set of coordinated interventions designed to improve and measure the appropriate use of antimicrobials. Pharmacists can contribute to antimicrobial stewardship by incorporating relevant principles into their day-to-day practice to help limit the development of antimicrobial resistance.  

Examples of antimicrobial stewardship activities by pharmacists include: 

  • Checking where possible, if antimicrobial prescriptions align with HSE antimicrobial prescribing guidelines. All pharmacists directly or indirectly involved in the supply of antimicrobials are recommended to keep up to date with the HSE antibiotic prescribing website for the latest information on safe prescribing, drug interactions and infection specific guidance. 
  • Providing advice to patients so that they have a better understanding of appropriate antimicrobial use and antimicrobial resistance. 
  • Providing advice to patients when they present with a self-limiting or a likely viral infection. 
  • Promoting vaccination for vaccine preventable diseases. 
  • Engaging in continuing professional development relating to antimicrobial resistance, infection prevention and control and antimicrobial stewardship, including the vaccination of preventable diseases. 
  • Participating in the vaccination of preventable diseases for vaccines authorised for supply and administration by pharmacists. 
  • Keeping up to date with current antimicrobial guidelines and advice relating to antimicrobial stewardship. 

To support you and your pharmacy team in adhering to the principles of good antimicrobial stewardship, we would like to highlight the following resources: 

Infection prevention and control 

Infection prevention and control is a practical, evidence-based approach for preventing patients and health workers from being harmed by avoidable infections. The following resources provide further information and training on this topic: 

Supporting patients understanding of antimicrobial use and antimicrobial resistance 

Pharmacists play an important role in supporting patients to gain a better understanding of appropriate antimicrobial use, antimicrobial resistance, and providing advice and signposting when a patient presents with a self-limiting or viral infection. Pharmacists can also contribute by raising awareness and maximising the uptake of vaccinations by providing the public with accurate, factual information and reassurance about vaccinations.  

You may find the following resources useful to support your conversations with patients:  

  • The HSE website provides advice for patients on how to look after themselves and those around them if common illnesses strike. 
  • Patient information leaflets and factsheets are available from the HSE for those who carry or are infected by a ‘superbug’, as well as ways in which these can be prevented. 
  • The HSE National Immunisation Office provide up-to-date information about HSE vaccination programmes for the public and healthcare professionals in Ireland.