Objective 4: Appropriate usage and stewardship practices
Objective Four of the National Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Strategy – 2020 and Beyond promotes best practice antimicrobial use to:
- improve patient and client outcomes
- decrease patient and client harm.
Why is this important?
Antimicrobial use can increase AMR. All prescribers should have guidelines available to them to help make good prescribing decisions.
Australia has national guidelines to help prescribers in human health make decisions about:
- whether to prescribe antibiotics
- which ones are appropriate
- the right dose
- the right length of time for use.
Australia’s use of antibiotics in human health is high when compared with many other countries around the world. AURA surveillance system data show that our antibiotic prescribing is steadily decreasing in the community although increasing in hospitals. Inappropriate prescribing is steady in our hospitals.
But we need to do more to reduce inappropriate antibiotic prescribing. This includes not using antibiotics:
- to treat viral infections (such as colds or flu) where they have no benefit
- when the infection should get better by itself
- for longer than necessary.
There is a low level of antibiotic use in Australian agriculture but the sector is still working to advance antimicrobial stewardship.
View the full details of Objective Four of the National AMR Strategy– 2020 and Beyond, including specific priority areas of action.
What are we doing?
For human health
The Therapeutic Guidelines: Antibiotic helps prescribers make the best decision about whether to prescribe antibiotics or not.
The National Centre for Antimicrobial Stewardship is a centre for research excellence undertaking research to support antimicrobial stewardship. They promote the appropriate use of antimicrobials in medical and veterinary sectors.
The AURA Surveillance System provides data to monitor antimicrobial usage and resistance in Australia. These data help to inform antimicrobial stewardship practices.
National Safety and Quality Health Service Standard 3 requires all hospitals to develop and implement antimicrobial stewardship programs. It makes sure:
- health professionals have access to current guidelines on how to prescribe antibiotics
- hospitals monitor antibiotic usage
- hospitals take steps to improve antimicrobial stewardship programs.
Two programs that allow hospitals to benchmark their use of antimicrobials and improve prescribing are:
- The National Antimicrobial Utilisation Surveillance Program (NAUSP).
- The Hospital National Antimicrobial Prescribing Survey (NAPS).
The Aged Care National Antimicrobial Prescribing Survey (acNAPS) provides data to aged care homes to help improve antimicrobial prescribing.
- The Antimicrobial Stewardship Clinical Care Standard ensures patients with bacterial infections receive the right treatment for their condition.
- NPS MedicineWise provides tools and resources for health professionals and consumers to improve antibiotic use.
For animal health
The Australian Veterinary Association and Animal Medicines Australia will jointly develop guidelines on how to best prescribe antibiotics for main livestock species and horses. The Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment supported the development of Antimicrobial prescribing guidelines for pigs.
- In 2016–17, the Australian Veterinary Association trialed an antimicrobial stewardship program in Canberra (ACT) and the Hunter Valley (NSW). The pilot supports best practice antibiotic prescribing in companion animals.
- An online antimicrobial stewardship training course for prescribers is available.
The animal health industry is working together as part of the Australian Intensive Industries Antimicrobial Stewardship Working Group. This working group supports antimicrobial stewardship practices and reducing the emergence of AMR in intensive animal industries.
Find out more about antimicrobial stewardship for:
Share your activity or research project supporting Objective Four of the National AMR Strategy – 2020 and Beyond.