United Arab Emirates UniversityHow academic institutions improve patient outcomes with critical care guidelines

How academic institutions improve patient outcomes with critical care guidelines

Long before the Covid-19 pandemic struck, critical care guidelines were essential to healthcare outcomes – and academics played a key role in establishing them

The importance of critical care medicine may never have been in doubt, but the past two years have certainly focused attention on it. The Covid-19 pandemic forced hospitals to manage an unexpected influx of patients that threatened to overwhelm healthcare systems. It also pushed academics and higher education institutions to find new treatments and procedures to support patients.

One academic who has played a significant role in improving critical care – not just since the pandemic’s outbreak but long before it – is Fayez Al Shamsi, assistant professor at the College of Medicine and Health Sciences at the United Arab Emirates University (UAEU).

“My field of expertise is in critical care medicine,” Al Shamsi explains. “I teach undergraduate students throughout their preclinical years as well as in the final two years of clinical placement at hospitals during our six-year medical programme. After graduating from the College of Medicine and Health Sciences at the UAEU in 2007, I began postgraduate residency training in internal medicine and critical care medicine, alongside an extra year of neurocritical care medicine at McMaster University in Canada.”

In 2017, Al Shamsi joined the Guidelines in Intensive Care, Development and Evaluation (GUIDE) group established by his mentors at McMaster University. GUIDE’s mission is to advance the development of clinical practice guidelines in critical care medicine – something Al Shamsi has been personally involved with.

“Through my work with GUIDE, we were able to publish several guidelines in collaboration with other professional societies, such as the Society of Critical Care Medicine in the US and the European Society of Intensive Care Medicine,” Al Shamsi explains. “Founded by both societies in 2002, for example, the Surviving Sepsis Campaign (SSC) is an international collaboration whose main objective is to increase awareness about sepsis, early detection and improving outcomes for critically ill patients suffering from severe infections.”

As a methodologist on the guideline panels, Al Shamsi’s task is to support experts in finding scientific evidence, summarising it, assessing its quality, presenting it to the panel and making a final recommendation for or against the intervention or treatment. This task took on added impetus during the pandemic.

“During the first wave of the pandemic, the SSC published ‘Surviving Sepsis Campaign: Guidelines on the Management of Critically Ill Adults with Coronavirus Disease 2019’, followed by an update in March 2021 based on new evidence,” Al Shamsi notes. “More recently, in October 2021, the ‘Surviving Sepsis Campaign: International Guidelines for Management of Sepsis’ and ‘Septic Shock 2021’ were both released by a panel of more than 50 experts from 22 countries.”

The work being undertaken by GUIDE and other organisations highlights the important role that collaboration plays in critical care. Al Shamsi continues to serve as a member of the GUIDE group, which is involved in drafting new guidelines – with several currently being processed and scheduled for publication.

The guideline recommendations that Al Shamsi has worked on have helped to set the standards and benchmarks for improving patient outcomes. This has been evident throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and will continue to be the case for the foreseeable future. “As well as improving healthcare standards worldwide, I hope my continued collaboration with international experts in publishing highly impactful content will further promote the UAEU as a leading academic institution,” he says.

Find out more about the College of Medicine and Health Sciences at UAEU.

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