Feature Article

Minimising inappropriate prescribing of antibiotics

John Turnidge, Nicholas Zwar



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.