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Doctors and nurses are being asked to think twice before they prescribe antibiotics in a bid to prevent patients being given them too much and developing resistance to these life saving drugs

The Department of Health has today published new guidance on the use of antibiotics in hospitals ahead of European Antibiotics Awareness Day on Friday 18 November.

The new guidance, ‘Start Smart, Then Focus’, provides hospital prescribers with best practice advice on antimicrobial prescribing. It will help ensure patients receive the right drug, at the right time, at the right dose and the right duration for the individual - avoiding unnecessary lengthy duration of antibiotic treatment and inappropriate use of broad-spectrum antibiotics.

Misuse of antibiotics is causing bacteria to become resistant. Some antibiotics aren’t as effective as they used to be because the bacteria they are designed to tackle have become resistant to them. These important medicines need to be used wisely to maximise the NHS’s ability to treat infections in the future.

The increase in antibiotic resistance is a major concern which needs action at a global level. It is essential that antibiotics are used in the right way to slow down resistance and this is what the guidance seeks to help health professionals do.

Professor Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer, said:

Many antibiotics are currently prescribed and used when they don’t need to be – meaning antibiotics lose their effectiveness at a rapidly increasing rate.

“This guidance will help ensure better use of antibiotics in hospitals and treatment tailored for individual patient needs.

“It is important we use antibiotics in the right way if we are to get the best outcome for the patient, slow down resistance and make sure these important medicines continue to stay effective for ourselves and for future generations.”

Professor Mike Sharland, Chair of the Advisory Committee on Antimicrobial Resistance and Healthcare Associated Infection (ARHAI), said:

This new national guidance is an important addition to the tools available to help healthcare professionals in tackling the serious problems of antibiotic resistance and healthcare associated infection.

“The guidance encourages all hospital prescribers to use the most effective antibiotic as fast as possible to treat serious infections, then review the treatment 48 hours later.

“This guidance will help ensure that all patients get the right antibiotic at the right time, every time, but are not exposed to medicines they do not need.”

The Department of Health has also published a range of materials on its website to support European Antibiotic Awareness Day local activity and will be screening a series of animated videos via Life Channel in GP surgeries across the country to remind people to take care, not antibiotics, for coughs and colds.


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Written by Scott Buckler   
Thursday, 17 November 2011 14:08
Last Updated on Thursday, 17 November 2011 14:10

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