Antibiotics

Find reliable independent health and treatment information about antibiotics written by Australian experts. This includes resources for consumers and health professionals.

About antibiotics

Antibiotics are medicines used to treat a wide variety of infections or diseases caused by bacteria including:

If you are prescribed antibiotics, it is important that you follow your health professional’s advice on when, how, and for how long to take them. Find out more about:

Using antibiotics when you don’t need them (eg, if you have a cold or flu) can contribute to the problem of antibiotic resistance. Find out more about:

You can also search for your antibiotic by type or brand name.

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Join the fight against antibiotic resistance

NPS MedicineWise antibiotic resistance pledge badge

The development of antibiotics was one of the most important advances of medicine. Now, because of the overuse and misuse of antibiotics, bacterial infections that were once easily cured with antibiotics are becoming harder to treat.

This is due to antibiotic resistance. It has been identified by the WHO as one of the greatest threats to human health today.

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For health professionals  

Prescribing a routine course of antibiotics significantly increases the likelihood of an individual carrying a resistant bacterial strain – resistant bacteria can be spread to family, friends and the broader community. To minimise antibiotic resistance, Australian guidelines recommend that an antibiotic should only be prescribed:

  • when benefits to the patient are likely to be substantial
  • with the narrowest spectrum to treat the likely pathogen
  • at the appropriate dose and for the appropriate duration.

Staphylococcus aureus that is methicillin-resistant (MRSA), and therefore resistant to all β-lactam antibiotics, is widespread, with skin and soft tissue infections among the most common sources. Although most of the data describe the problem in hospital settings, there is an emerging picture of antibiotic resistance in community settings across Australia.

Find out more about using antibiotics wisely for skin infections.

Our CPD activities

Consolidate your knowledge on antibiotics, brush up on current guidelines and practices and earn CPD points through our learning activities.

Clinical information

The information below is intended for health professionals. It uses the latest guidelines and evidence to help health professionals further understand the issues around antibiotic resistance. It also includes tools and resources to help educate patients and carers

For your patients

Use the following tools and resources especially designed for use in your consultations with patients.

Other tools and resources

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a doctor speaking to an elderly gentleman patient

Antibiotic resistance is everyone's problem. All health professionals have a responsibility to preserve the miracle of antibiotics.

If you are prescribing, dispensing or working with people taking antibiotics, take the pledge and help reduce the threat of antibiotic resistance.

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Related information - antibiotics

Audience:
       

For health professionals (Tool / resource)
01 Apr 2016 Patients can often self-manage coughs and colds and avoid antibiotics. This pad will help you remind patients of the things they can do.
16 Mar 2016 NPS MedicineWise and Tropfest are spreading the word that antibiotics are losing their power through misuse and overuse. Watch the videos to learn more about antibiotic resistance.
14 Mar 2016 The management of urinary tract infections (UTIs) is changing, although it can still include antibiotics. Learn more about diagnosis & treatment of UTIs.
14 Mar 2016 Antibiotics aren’t likely to help coughs, colds or sore throats. Download a factsheet about treating respiratory infections here.
11 Mar 2016 Middle ear infections (otitis media) usually get better on their own and don’t need antibiotic treatment.
11 Mar 2016 Recommendations from the College of Intensive Care Medicine & the Australian and New Zealand Intensive Care Society on end-of-life care, invasive devices, anaemia, sedation & antibiotics.
For health professionals (Tool / resource)
08 Mar 2016 Patients can often self-manage coughs and colds and avoid antibiotics. This management plan will help you remind patients of the things they can do.
For health professionals
01 Mar 2016 Find out which tests, treatments or procedures healthcare providers and consumers should question, as recommended by Australian medical colleges.
01 Mar 2016 Recommendations from the Australasian College of Dermatologists on leg cellulitis, epidermal cysts, urticaria, distorted toenails & acne.
01 Mar 2016 Recommendations from the Australasian Society for Infectious Diseases on antibiotics, faecal pathogen tests, fatigue, bacteruria, leg ulcers & respiratory infections.