Five-year Superbug Campaign drawn up

PUBLISHED : Friday, 02 September, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 02 September, 2011, 12:00am


The Hospital Authority will launch a five-year plan next year to contain drug-resistant superbugs, including an electronic system to monitor the use of antibiotics.

The system will give advice on whether the doctor's prescription of 'big gun' antibiotics is appropriate based on the patient's condition and history.

If the use is found to be inappropriate, it will suggest alternative choices, the authority's chief infection control officer, Dr Dominic Tsang Ngai-chong, said yesterday.

If doctors insist on the prescription despite the system's advice against the use, they will have to seek approval from specialist doctors, as in the current system.

The new system, scheduled to be introduced in the second year of the five-year plan, will be built with reference to one in a Singapore hospital which was effective in reducing drug abuse.

Big gun antibiotics are more potent drugs that should be used as a last resort. Bacteria exposed to drugs may mutate and develop resistance, and early resistance to such strong drugs makes them hard to defeat.

'The advantage of an electronic system is that it can give immediate advice anytime, and reduces the need for human resources which we lack,' Tsang (pictured) said. Prescriptions are now monitored by specialists who also have other duties and may not be able to give timely feedback.

Other parts of the plan include a screening programme to control outbreaks. A large number of the same sub-class of a superbug would mean an outbreak.

A colour coding system to differentiate between equipment to be used for superbug contaminated and non-contaminated patients will be extended. Hand hygiene will be further enhanced, possibly through an electronic monitoring system for hand washing and the use of alcohol hand rubs, Tsang said .

The announcement of the five-year plan comes after two of the seven major superbugs recorded a slight increase in the first half of this year compared to last year.

Tsang said the sample percentage of carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) compared to the non-resistant form of the bacteria in public hospitals had increased from 0.19 to 0.64.

At the same time multi-drugresistant Acinetobacter (MDRA) increased from 2.1 to 3.1, with both imported and local cases.

There was a slight reduction in methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), the bug that was found last month to breed especially vigorously in homes for the elderly.