Feature Article

Minimising inappropriate prescribing of antibiotics

Feature Article

Minimising inappropriate prescribing of antibiotics

John Turnidge, Nicholas Zwar

Abstract

In an era of rapidly increasing antibiotic resistance, appropriate antibiotic prescribing is a challenge for general practice. This article presents strategies for reducing inappropriate prescribing, and gives a guide to antibiotic use in some common infections. The ultimate price of increasing resistance is high, both medically and financially.

Key Points

  • Australia is a higher user of antibiotics than most similar countries in Europe and North America.
  • Despite the GP belief to the contrary, only about one-third of patients expect antibiotics and only some are vehement about their need.
  • Prescribing for respiratory infections is the major area of antibiotic use in general practice. Yet, 90% of all respiratory tract infections are viral.
  • Strategies for reducing inappropriate prescribing include: eliciting patients’ expectations and anxieties, providing an adequate explanation and easy access for review, explaining that not prescribing is for health reasons, and using a delayed prescription strategy where appropriate.