New protocol set to boost SMC services

A NEW treatment protocol introduced in the country’s main hospital will help overcome its major challenges of shortage of beds and long waiting times.

The Outpatient Parenteral Antibiotic Therapy (OPAT), which will allow patients to continue a course of intravenous (IV) antibiotics without having to stay in the hospital, has been launched at Salmaniya Medical Complex (SMC).

Bahrain is the first country in the region to launch this programme – which is common in the US and gaining popularity in Australia and Europe.

SMC consultant otorhinolaryngologist Dr Luay Alekry, who is also head of the committee responsible for the treatment mechanism, said it will help resolve one of the major challenges of patient admissions at SMC.

“OPAT will ensure an improved patient experience at SMC and enable them to continue treatment in the outpatient setting, according to international standards,” Dr Alekry said in a statement yesterday.

“With this ambitious programme, Bahrain will emerge a regional pioneer in the therapy.”

The most important feature of OPAT is that it reduces hospital stay period – freeing up beds and cutting down waiting time for the most needy cases, he said.

OPAT is used to treat ailments including diabetic foot infections, pneumonia, skin and tissue infections, osteomyelitis and bacteremia from urinary tract infection and inflammatory disease.

According to Dr Alekry, doctors at the hospital will determine if a patient is eligible for the OPAT procedure. Those selected for OPAT after evaluation will then be referred to a doctor specialised in infectious diseases, he said.

“The same doctor will also determine the treatment plan, which must be approved by the patient, who will then be enrolled in to the Day Care Unit (DCU).

“All his health data will be entered electronically to ensure that the information is preserved and easy to obtain in the future.”

The patient will be subjected to a Covid test 24 to 48 hours before the treatment programme begins.

The OPAT procedure involves an interventional radiologist using a peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC line) into a patient to allow continuous administration of antimicrobial drugs and take blood samples throughout the course of treatment.

The patient’s Covid-19 swab will be taken every week and nursing staff will provide appropriate health education while ensuring he/she is subjected to the necessary laboratory and medical monitoring during the treatment period.

The service is available at SMC round the week under the supervision of a multidisciplinary medical team composed of doctors, pharmacists and nursing staff.

Governmental Hospitals’ chief executive Dr Ahmed Al Ansari said OPAT has been introduced as part of the SMC administration’s development projects.

“The highlight of the treatment method is shortened hospital stay, with patients able to receive intravenous antimicrobial medicines even when they remain outside the hospital.”




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