Hospital antibiotics rates drop

Antimicrobial stewardship is working, with hospital pharmacists at the frontline of efforts to curb resistance

A new report released by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care shows the use of antibiotics in hospitals fell by 7.6% between 2011 and 2015 – ” a sign that efforts to encourage more appropriate use of antibiotics and other antimicrobial drugs is having an effect,” says the Commission.

Antimicrobial Use in Australian Hospitals is the 2015 annual report of the National Antimicrobial Utilisation Surveillance Program (NAUSP), which is part of SA Health’s Antimicrobial Use and Resistance in Australia (AURA) Surveillance System.

It reveals that among the 159 hospitals contributing data to the program, there were 916.4 defined daily doses (DDDs) of antibiotics given to patients per 1,000 occupied bed days (OBDs) in 2015.

This was 2% lower than the previous year, and 7.6% lower than the rate of 992.4 per 1,000 OBDs recorded in 2011, when 69 hospitals were contributing data to the program.

The Commission’s Senior Medical Advisor for the AURA Project, Professor John Turnidge, says the results are “very encouraging”.

“These data show that implementing antimicrobial stewardship in hospitals is an effective way of ensuring that antimicrobials are used appropriately,” he tells AJP.

“The variation between usage in principal referral hospitals and usage in large- and medium-sized hospitals demonstrates that there is a greater need than ever to implement antimicrobial stewardship programs across the whole health system,” Professor Turnidge says.

SHPA says that while it is very pleased with the results of the report, it is not surprised.

“SHPA is certainly not surprised with this result, given the crucial investments that hospitals and pharmacy departments have made into antimicrobial stewardship, and the contributions hospital pharmacists bring to these teams,” says SHPA Acting CEO Andrew Matthews.

“With even more investment into antimicrobial stewardship pharmacists, even more optimal and appropriate antimicrobial usage can be achieved and extended to other settings such as residential aged care facilities,” says Mr Matthews.

He explains that antimicrobial stewardship is a key role for hospital pharmacists.

“Antimicrobial stewardship pharmacists and clinical hospital pharmacists work alongside doctors to review pathology and blood cultures, to determine the appropriate antimicrobial regimen for each individual patient.

“Hospital pharmacists are integral to ensuring patients receive the appropriate antimicrobial therapy and duration. They are frontline defenders for the judicious use of antimicrobials in global efforts to curb rising antimicrobial resistance.”

The Commission has worked with NAUSP over the past 18 months to enhance data entry and reporting functionality via a web portal.

NAUSP publishes quarterly reports on its website containing aggregated data by peer group and state/territory, which makes comparisons easy.

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