In the media - Tackling antibiotic resistance

Pragmatic solutions for antibiotic misuse and overuse

The inappropriate use of antibiotics and other antimicrobial drugs in Australia is continuing to fuel a growing crisis of drug-resistant infections. Antimicrobial resistance is a natural phenomenon where microbes develop immunity to medications, making certain infections difficult or impossible to treat. While antibiotic prescribing in the community has decreased for the first time since national surveillance commenced, antibiotics are apparently still being overprescribed.

Unnecessary antibiotic repeats may be a key contributor to this issue. Part of the problem is that some prescribing software packages used by GPs generally include repeats for antibiotic prescriptions by default. Simply removing default repeats could help to curb misuse.

Yet, default repeats represent only one potential target for better antimicrobial stewardship in the community. Research at the National Centre for Antimicrobial Stewardship (NCAS), based at the University of Melbourne, Royal Melbourne Hospital and Monash University, has found that many GPs simply don’t have access to key guidelines.

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) Standards indicate that the use of guidelines, like the Therapeutic Guidelines, is considered standard practice. But in one of our pilot studies, one quarter of practices didn’t have access to them,” says Dr Jo-Anne Manski-Nankervis, a general practitioner and researcher at the University of Melbourne’s Department of General Practice. Any barriers to their accessibility and use must be explored and remedied.” Our qualitative work has identified that GPs want computerised decision-support incorporating guidelines integrated with electronic medical records in a way that fits within the clinical workflow. So, we are co-designing clinical decision-support tools with GPs to try to address this gap.”