Over the past 20 yrs, pharmacists have successfully integrated their services and expertise to gain acceptance as full members of pediatric, surgical, medical, and intensive care unit (ICU) patient care teams. The pharmacists' training in pharmacology, pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, and pharmacoeconomics complements the expertise of other members of the patient care team. Generally, a strong background in infectious diseases and critical care also provides a focal point for clinical pharmacy service intervention. Although practitioners often focus on issues exclusively related to their specific hospital or ICU, the issues surrounding antibiotic resistance are more global and societal in nature. Medical, surgical, and pharmaceutical practices inside the hospital and ICU extend their influence into the community. Customs and practices of daily living in our society coupled with use of agents capable of altering microbial flora impact our hospital and ICU when patients from the community are admitted. The misuse of antibiotics and the lack of effective infection control programs are often identified as key components in the perpetuation of these phenomena. The focus for the pharmacist and the ICU team must be on the optimization of antibiotic use and infection control guidelines. This review will address the many issues that surround the appropriate use of antibiotics and what role the pharmacist can play in ensuring the optimal use of infection control measures in the ICU and hospital.
- Intensive care unit