Utilization of a clinical microbiology service at a Cambodian paediatric hospital and its impact on appropriate antimicrobial prescribing.
Fox-Lewis S., Pol S., Miliya T., Day NPJ., Turner P., Turner C.
Background: Antimicrobial resistance threatens human health worldwide. Antimicrobial misuse is a major driver of resistance. Promoting appropriate antimicrobial use requires an understanding of how clinical microbiology services are utilized, particularly in resource-limited settings. Objectives: To assess the appropriateness of antimicrobial prescribing and the factors affecting utilization of the established clinical microbiology service (CMS). The CMS comprises the microbiology laboratory, clinical microbiologists (infection doctors) and antimicrobial treatment guidelines. Methods: This mixed-methods study was conducted at a non-governmental Cambodian paediatric hospital. Empirical and post-culture antimicrobial prescriptions were reviewed from medical records. The random sample included 10 outpatients per week in 2016 (retrospective) and 20 inpatients per week for 4 weeks in the medical, neonatal and intensive care wards (prospective). Post-culture prescriptions were assessed in patients with positive blood and cerebrospinal fluid cultures from 1 January 2014 to 31 December 2016. Focus group discussions and semi-structured interviews with clinicians explored barriers and facilitators to use of the CMS. Results: Only 31% of outpatients were prescribed empirical antimicrobials. Post-culture prescriptions (394/443, 89%) were more likely to be appropriate than empirical prescriptions (447/535, 84%), based on treatment guidelines, microbiology advice and antimicrobial susceptibility test results (P = 0.015). Being comprehensive, accessible and trusted enabled CMS utilization. Clinical microbiologists provided a crucial human interface between the CMS and physicians. The main barriers were a strong clinical hierarchy and occasional communication difficulties. Conclusions: Antimicrobial prescribing in this hospital was largely appropriate. A culturally appropriate human interface linking the laboratory and physicians is essential in providing effective microbiology services and ensuring appropriate antimicrobial prescribing in resource-limited settings.