Hospitals invited to join national Gentamicin improvement project

We're encouraging hospitals to join a national Gentamicin improvement project, which has seen huge successes in the sites involved since its development in 2013.

Hospitals across Ireland are being encouraged to join a national Gentamicin improvement project, jointly run by RCPI and the HSE as part of the National Quality Improvement Programme.

Gentamicin - A powerful but potentially toxic antibiotic

The antibiotic Gentamicin is used across a wide range of medical and surgical specialties. It is the seventh most commonly used antibiotic in Irish hospitals, with approximately 15,000 patients treated per annum with the drug. While it is a potentially life-saving drug, used to treat Gram-negative infection in amongst the sickest cohort of patients, many healthcare professionals will be familiar with the complexity involved in ensuring an optimal treatment course. It is not unusual to experience difficulty in using Gentamicin, particularly around the process of dosing and monitoring.

Failure to achieve optimal dosing runs the risk of increased patient morbidity and mortality, and increased resistance. Over-dosage can cause temporary or permanent kidney toxicity, or loss of hearing or balance functions. Conversely, fear of toxicity can result in sub-therapeutic dosing and error in therapeutic drug monitoring performance can also lead to unintended dose omission or delay. Both of these factors present a risk of treatment failure and the emergence of Gentamicin resistance.

National Gentamicin improvement project launched in 2013

The National Quality Improvement Programme launched a Gentamicin improvement project in 2013 with the aim of improving Gentamicin usage within the healthcare system in Ireland. Through this, a working group consisting of pharmacists, physicians and Quality Improvement experts came together to examine practical ways to improve Gentamicin usage in hospitals.

The project began with each participating hospital testing measures that the working group designed, to see if they were measurable and if the measures were relevant to the aim of the project. All of the measures were tested in a variety of acute settings, including Paediatric sites. From this, the group developed an innovative set of guidelines for hospitals seeking to ensure the safety and efficacy of this powerful but potentially toxic antibiotic.

Join the national Gentamicin improvement project now and make patient care safer

If your hospital would like to join the national Gentamicin improvement project, please contact Victoria Taylor, Quality Executive in RCPI, at

The Gentamicin improvement project holds quarterly meetings, at which hospitals can discuss their improvements and seek advice and support on the process. The next quarterly meeting is on Tuesday 19 May at 4.00pm in RCPI. You can join by teleconference if you can't attend in person.

New hospitals are most welcome!

Please contact if you would like to attend or call into the meeting.

Download the Gentamicin Improvement Guide

Improvement Guide

Driver Diagram

Run Chart

SMART Aim Statement

Stakeholder Map

Developed by frontline clinicians, support staff and national quality improvement experts, the Gentamicin improvement guide is essentially an aid to direct hospitals through the process of improving the quality of prescribing and usage of Gentamicin. It covers all stages of the quality improvement journey:

    •    Establishing structure
    •    Establishing an aim
    •    How to start measuring
    •    How to start making changes