NPS launches otitis media resource

health professional checking out little girl's ear

With cold and flu season underway, NPS MedicineWise has released an interactive online case study tailored by audience to GPs, pharmacists and nurses on otitis media and antibiotic prescribing.

Dr Andrew Boyden , NPS MedicineWise medical adviser says, “Increasingly, the limited role of antibiotics for the treatment of acute otitis media is being recognised, which is reflected in contemporary clinical guideline recommendations.

“Health professionals have an important role to play in raising awareness about antibiotic resistance and prescribing issues.

“This includes helping parents and carers of children with acute otitis media understand both the potential benefits as well as harms of antibiotics that need to be considered when making prescribing decisions.

“Many parents may not be aware that antibiotics have limited effect on early pain and may not fully appreciate the risk of side effects—such as diarrhoea.

“In scenarios such as children presenting with a sore ear, many parents consult their GP for reasons other than to request antibiotics. This is often for reassurance, for information about their condition or to rule out more serious illness.

“Reassurance as well as providing guidance on symptomatic management options are important aspects of management of ear infections.”

The case study Otitis Media: Clarifying the role of antibiotics presents two clinical scenarios and covers initial treatment options, discussions on the role of antibiotic treatment, the role for delayed prescriptions, minimising the risk of AOM recurrence and when to refer to an ENT specialist.

The case study has expert commentary from Professor Chris Del Mar, GP and Professor of Public Health, Bond University.

Learning outcomes for participants include :

  • Outlining of recommended pharmacological management of acute otitis media (AOM)
  • Identification of appropriate prevention strategies for otitis media
  • Recognition of when antibiotic therapy may be needed in patients with AOM.


NPS MedicineWise case studies are free and offer continuing professional development (CPD) points for GPs, pharmacists and nurses. For GPs, the case study is recognised for the Practice Incentives Program Quality Prescribing Incentive.

The prescribing of antibiotics for middle ear infection in children was addressed in a recent recommendation from the health profession-led initiative Choosing Wisely Australia, facilitated by NPS MedicineWise.

The Royal Australian College of General Practioners recommended against routine use of antibiotics for children aged 2 to 12 years (who aren’t of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent) where reassessment was a reasonable option.

For more information about the case study, visit


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