I am the I in IWK – Kathy Slayter

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Kathy Slayter is a clinical pharmacy specialist, infectious diseases and antimicrobial stewardship as well as the co-lead for the IWK’s Antimicrobial Stewardship Program.

Antimicrobials are agents used to fight against microorganisms such as bacteria and viruses and include products like antibiotics. In 2015, Slayter joined the IWK to develop an antimicrobial stewardship program, something the organization was keen to move forward.

“One of the first things I heard when I started was ‘How can we make this happen? How can we facilitate innovation at the IWK?’,” says Slayter. “It was a resounding theme across the health centre.”

Antimicrobial Stewardship is the appropriate selection, dosing, route and duration of antimicrobials to achieve the best clinical outcome for patients. The need for these programs is a result of several factors:

  • We are entering an era of increasing antimicrobial resistance threats
  • When not prescribed optimally, they may (rarely) cause severe side effects
  • A compounding problem is the increasing scarcity of new antimicrobials in research and development

“Optimizing patient outcomes, while minimizing unintended consequences of antimicrobial use, through active stewardship is an important strategy to preserve these precious resources,” says Slayter. “The Antimicrobial Stewardship Program believes that appropriate antimicrobial prescribing can be achieved through multifaceted approaches that engage clinicians in dialogue on optimal therapy, provide relevant and timely results from diagnostic tests and educate clinicians at point of care.”

One of the most innovative ways the IWK is carrying out the stewardship program is through Spectrum, a digital app that Slayter, along with a collaborative team of colleagues, developed. Spectrum has about 850 average daily users and provides antimicrobial stewardship information on more than 120 syndromes. The guidelines in this application were developed by the Antimicrobial Stewardship Program in collaboration with multiple clinical groups and represent consensus based on evidence-based guidelines.

Spectrum was the first IWK-branded app to be created and is the first antimicrobial stewardship app created by a women and children’s hospital in Canada.

November 18-24 is Antibiotic Awareness Week in Canada. This year’s theme is ‘Think Twice, Seek Advice’.