To fight antibiotic resistance, GPs should prescribe antibiotics only where appropriate

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Researchers in Australia are undertaking a pilot study through which they intend to reduce antibiotic resistance by reducing the amount of antibiotics prescribed by general practitioners in the country.

Researchers at The University of Queensland, Bond University and Queensland University of Technology have come together for a study, Antimicrobial Stewardship and Infection Prevention and Control Initiatives in General Practice, which is being led by co-author Professor Charles Gilks from the School of Public Health, UQ.

According to Gilks, most of the antibiotics that are prescribed are in a general practice setting and this is why they believe GPs are best placed to address the problem as they are well-placed to convey to patients about the possible risk involved with antibiotics as far as the likelihood of carrying resistant bacteria is concerned.

“These resistant bacteria can persist for up to 12 months after antibiotic use, but with no further exposure to antibiotics they will disappear overtime”, said Professor Gilks.

The study intends to trial a combination of evidence-based interventions that have each been shown to reduce antibiotic prescribing in the general practice setting, and will present a final report to the Department of Health on June 2016.

“In order to preserve one of medicine’s most precious and long-standing resources, GPs must reduce antibiotic use and only prescribe it where appropriate,” Professor Gilks said.

Professor Gilks said that new antibiotics were not being developed at a pace that came anywhere close to meeting the impending urgent need.

Australia is one of the highest users of antibiotics per person in the developed world, with around 22 million prescriptions written every year in primary care.

Half of all antibiotics prescribed by GPs in Australia are for the management of respiratory conditions but this treatment is often inappropriate as most respiratory infections are viral and resolve in the same amount of time whether or not an antibiotic is prescribed.

There is a strong link between antibiotic consumption and the rate of antibiotic resistance in patients. So the increase in antibiotic use increases the risk of death for patients who acquire antibiotic-resistant infections.