How you can help contain antibiotic resistance
GPs and other prescribing health professionals are in a prime position to address the issue of antibiotic resistance.
You can take a lead role in containing antibiotic resistance — just by considering antibiotic resistance when deciding whether to prescribe antibiotics for patients presenting with acute RTIs.
Antibiotic resistance ranks low on the list of factors influencing GPs’ decisions to prescribe an antibiotic.1-3 Reasons given include:
- antibiotic resistance is not viewed as a real threat, because they have not seen it in their patients
- some GPs were unclear about how they could contain antibiotic resistance
- some GPs felt there was a lack of evidence to link their prescribing behaviour to emerging antibiotic resistance.4,5
To minimise antibiotic resistance, only prescribe an antibiotic6:
- when benefits to the patient are likely to be substantial (see Managing patients who expect antibiotic treatment for RTIs)
- of the narrowest spectrum to treat the likely pathogen
- at the appropriate dose and for the appropriate duration.
Do not prescribe an antibiotic for:
- self-limiting RTIs
- viral infections
Follow the principles of the antibiotic creed6 —
Antibiotic resistance: the facts
This fact sheet busts common misconceptions about antibiotic use. You can use it to encourage your patients to be part of the solution to antibiotic resistance.
- Nasrin D, Collignon PJ, Roberts L, et al. Effect of beta lactam antibiotic use in children on pneumococcal resistance to penicillin: prospective cohort study. BMJ 2002;324:28–30.
- Chung A, Perera R, Brueggemann AB, et al. Effect of antibiotic prescribing on antibiotic resistance in individual children in primary care: prospective cohort study. BMJ 2007;335:429.
- Therapeutic Guidelines: Antibiotic. 14th edn. Melbourne: Therapeutic Guidelines Ltd, 2010.
- Bjornsdottir I, Kristinsson KG, Hansen EH. Diagnosing infections: a qualitative view on prescription decisions in general practice over time. Pharm World Sci 2010;32:805–14.
- McNulty CA, Francis NA. Optimizing antibiotic prescribing in primary care settings in the UK: findings of a BSAC multi-disciplinary workshop 2009. J Antimicrob Chemother 2010;65:2278–84.
- Simpson SA, Wood F, Butler CC. General practitioners' perceptions of antimicrobial resistance: a qualitative study. J Antimicrob Chemother 2007;59:292–6.