The last two posts have been about the challenge we all face in preventing the development of antibiotic resistance and treating those who have antibiotic resistant diseases. In today’s world of antibiotic resistant diseases, we all are guided to be vigilant when the plan of care contains antibiotic therapy. Providers have an important role in antibiotic stewardship and so does the rest of the corrections health team, including the nursing staff, the pharmacy, laboratory and clerical staff to ensure our patients receive the community standard of care with regard to treating infectious disease. This post highlights the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Prisons’ development of guidelines for antibiotic stewardship in correctional health care.
Clinical practice guidelines
In 2013, the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) published Antimicrobial Stewardship Guidance. The BOP is the first correctional health care system to develop and make available to the public a written plan to address prevention and treatment of antibiotic resistant disease. Since then other systems have used it as the basis to develop their own guidelines on the use of antibiotics. The BOP guidelines provide information about:
- diagnosing and identifying infections
- understanding lab values,
- therapy selections,
- multi-drug resistant organisms
- national guidelines for treatment.
- to communication, competencies and training.
Strategies of the BOP Program
The BOP guidance is based upon four strategies:
- Education for all staff about appropriate use of antimicrobial agents
- Formulary management with varying degrees of restriction in the use of antibiotics
- Prior approval programs for antibiotic medications not on the formulary
- Converting patients from broad to narrow spectrum antibiotic therapy.
Communication, communication, communication
Communication, is at the heart of success in promoting antibiotic stewardship. The BOP guidelines stress that patient satisfaction is influenced more by communication, than by whether or not the patient receives an antibiotic. Communication is used to validate the patient’s illness, help them understand the disease as well as the treatment options. Sometimes antibiotics are warranted and sometime they are not and we use communication to help the patient understand the treatment recommended for their illness. Communication practices recommended by the BOP include:
- Choosing terminology–using the diagnosis name instead of referring an illness as “just a virus” validates the patient’s symptoms. They will be more willing to participate in the treatment plan when they know you care about what is happening to them. No matter how mild or severe, all illnesses are important to the patient.
- Offering symptomatic relief—it takes sensitivity when talking about a condition that is a virus or other illness that does not require use of antibiotics. Provide information about symptomatic relief such as over the counter medications, showers, hydration, gargles and warm or cold packs. In addition to talking with the patient provide a handout to reinforce the information.
- Discuss expectations for the course of illness and possible medication side effects—none of us hears everything the provider tells us at a visit. Our patients benefit from knowing what to report, what improvements looks like and when to report worsening symptoms. Patients should receive information about their illness, treatment or self-care options, what to expect and when to seek medical attention from nursing staff and others at every subsequent patient interaction.
Good communication provides the means to engage patients in the recommended and most appropriate treatment regime.
Nursing competencies and training
Infectious disease is a large group of illness and a challenge in maintaining a current knowledge base. In corrections health, we become more proficient in the most common diseases that our patients have. To assist us we have tools, such as standard protocols for MRSA and skin infections, pneumonia, tuberculosis, sepsis, gynecological infections, urinary infections and sexual transmitted diseases. Just keeping up with the laboratory tests and newly developed antibiotics can be a daily learning experience.
The BOP guidelines list the following infectious disease competencies for correctional nurses:
- Understanding culture and sensitivity laboratory report results.
- Understanding common IV antibiotic dosing, frequencies and regimes.
- Knowing the signs of improving clinical status that facilitate de-escalation.
- Understanding the timing of medication dosing and blood sample collection.
- Knowing the signs/symptoms of common allergic reactions to frequently used medications.
- Awareness of the facility antibiotic therapy guidelines.
- Knowing the common side effects and adverse events associated with antimicrobials.
- Understanding the principles of antibiotic stewardship.
The ups and downs of antibiotics
In 1928, Sir Alexander Fleming, discovered a naturally occurring antiseptic enzyme. He was quoted as saying “one sometimes finds what one is not looking for”. From his work, in six years, penicillin was discovered. From early to modern history antibiotics have played a major part in wellness and prevention of mortality. Today, we have new challenges from organisms adapting to medications and not curing illness. Everyone in the health care profession is working to curb this and to ensure all of us receive treatment that HEALS.
Are the infectious disease competencies for correctional nurses recommended by the BOP the ones you would recommend? What additions or changes to this list of competencies would you recommend? Please share your ideas by replying in the comments section of this post.
Read more about the identification and management of infectious diseases in the correctional setting in our book the Essentials of Correctional Nursing. Order a copy directly from the publisher or from Amazon today!
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