Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is described by the World Health Organization (WHO) as “the ability of a microorganism (like bacteria, viruses, and some parasites) to stop an antimicrobial (such as antibiotics, antivirals and antimalarials) from working against it.” As a result, standard treatments become ineffective and infections persist.

AMR is a major, looming threat to world health and economics. WHO’s Director General described it as a “slow moving disaster,” and the O’Neill Review on Antimicrobial Resistance projected 10-million deaths each year attributable to AMR by 2050. In Canada, around 18,000 people are hospitalized and between 3,000 and 3,500 die annually from drug-resistant infections. This is where Canadian hospital error lawyers can contribute to the cause, as infections acquired in hospitals can in some cases be grounds for medical malpractice suits.

What is being done to combat AMR?

Hospital error lawyers can help protect Canadian patients by holding physicians and healthcare facilities responsible for hygiene standards, but the vast majority of work done to fight AMR will of course be coordinated by large national and international institutions like the WHO.

In Canada, HealthCareCAN, a national voice for healthcare organizations and hospitals, and the National Collaborating Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCCID) have worked together to create a national antimicrobial stewardship (AMS) action plan titled Putting the Pieces Together. The plan lays out ten areas for governments, healthcare organizations and professionals, civil society groups (including hospital error lawyers), and the public to come together to fight AMR.

“This Action Plan is a crucial step towards preserving the effectiveness of antibiotics, and in reducing the threat of AMR,” said HealthCareCAN President and CEO Bill Tholl in a release. “We need to act now before we have lost our ability to fight common infections.”

Central to the Action Plan is antimicrobial stewardship, which is defined by the United Kingdom’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence as “an organizational or healthcare system-wide approach to promoting the judicious use of antimicrobials to preserve their future effectiveness.”

“The Action Plan was was developed with public health and healthcare stakeholders across the country,” said Margaret Haworth Brockman, Senior Program Manager at NCCID. “It demonstrates the commitment of all involved and our shared vision of how to move forward to ensure appropriate use of antimicrobials.”

Hospital safety and hospital error lawyers

The inappropriate use of antimicrobial medications and infection-causing behaviour by physicians or nurses both fall within the purview of hospital error lawyers. As such, if you or a member of your family has been harmed during a stay at an Ontario hospital, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers’ Medical Malpractice Group today to discuss your options.


Photo credit: Bmramon/Wikimedia Commons

Greg Neinstein