BacteriaA new app that will help healthcare staff tackle antibiotic resistance has been launched in Scotland.

The app, which will be rolled out nationwide, is a first for Scotland. Known as the Antimicrobial Companion, the app will give practitioners quick and easy access to clinical guidance and support decision making on antibiotic prescribing, including:

  • Dosage calculators for key antibiotic medicines (registered as medical devices with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency as they provide a specific dose for individual patients)
  • Antibiotic prescribing guidance for primary care and hospitals that can be customised by each health board
  • A decision aid to support management of urinary tract infections in older people
  • An audit tool to support boards in gathering data for local and Scottish Government targets.

Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria that cause illnesses like pneumonia, urinary tract infections and meningitis change so that they can no longer be effectively treated by antibiotics and is a growing threat to effective patient care. The World Health Organization has warned of a potential post-antibiotic era in which common infections and minor injuries can kill.

While Scotland has already made significant progress in improving antibiotic use and reducing unnecessary prescriptions for antibiotics, the Scottish Government-funded app, developed by the Scottish Antimicrobial Prescribing Group within Healthcare Improvement Scotland and NHS Education for Scotland (NES), will give clinicians another tool to ensure that antibiotics are used safely and effectively.

Professor Dilip Nathwani OBE, Chair of the Scottish Antimicrobial Prescribing Group, said: “Antibiotic use is characterised by waste and variation in practice, leading to harm. One of the key factors influencing better prescribing of antibiotics is the availability of easily accessible practical guidance in the workplace. This app makes it easier for our busy healthcare professionals to do the right and safe thing. Moreover, the availability within the app to evaluate this decision process through an audit component is unique and will further drive better practice. We look forward to hearing of its value and impact from users.”

Professor Stewart Irvine, Medical Director at NES, said: “Antimicrobial resistance is a crucially important topic, and the right decisions by staff today can make the difference between life and death for many people, now and in the future. It's essential that our workforce have educational tools that help them to apply evidence-based guidance in frontline practice. That's why we are creating mobile apps like this, to make it easy for staff to access the right information, and do the right thing, at the right time.”

The app has been developed by Glasgow-based company, Tactuum, with input from clinicians from hospital and primary care practice in several health boards.

Dr Rose Marie Parr, Chief Pharmaceutical Officer for Scotland, said: “I welcome the development of this app. The training materials it provides on antimicrobial stewardship for both undergraduate and postgraduate professionals will offer contemporary and ongoing support for the delivery of education on antimicrobial stewardship across all health and care settings.

“This is incredibly important as taking care of antibiotics to ensure we use them correctly so that they remain active for future generations is vital.”

The app can be accessed from any mobile device and is available to download free from the iTunes and Google Play app stores.