Antibiotic prescribing guidelines
Access to, and use of, antibiotic prescribing guidelines should be standard practice in all health care settings where antibiotics are prescribed.
The Therapeutic Guidelines: Antibiotic was produced by the Antibiotic Expert Group of Therapeutic Guidelines Limited. It represents the best available evidence and opinion regarding antibiotic treatment in Australia. It guides prescribers on antibiotic treatment, including: choosing the best antibiotic, the correct dose, how it should be taken, duration and when to commence the treatment.
The Australian Medicines Handbook is another important clinical resource for health professionals about the quality use of medicines. It provides guidance on practical prescribing matters including contraindications, precautions, side effects and dose adjustments for specific populations.
Resources to support antimicrobial stewardship
There are a number of resources available to help hospitals and day procedure services implement an antimicrobial stewardship program.
Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (the Commission)
The Commission manages the Antimicrobial Stewardship Initiative. The Initiative has resources and education modules to help healthcare services put effective stewardship programs in place. Further details are at Antimicrobial Stewardship Initiative.
National Safety and Quality Health Service (NSQHS) Standards
Since January 2013, Australian hospitals and day procedure services have to show that they meet the requirements of the NSQHS Standards to achieve accreditation.
Standard 3 of NSQHS Standards includes a criterion for antimicrobial stewardship, which requires all healthcare services to:
- have an antimicrobial stewardship program in place
- give clinicians prescribing antimicrobials access to the current Therapeutic Guidelines on using antimicrobials
- monitor antimicrobial use and resistance
- act to improve the effectiveness of antimicrobial stewardship.
Antimicrobial Stewardship in Australian Hospitals 2011
Antimicrobial Stewardship in Australian Hospitals 2011 provides guidance to assist hospitals to develop and implement antimicrobial stewardship programs.
Clinical Care Standards
The Antimicrobial Stewardship Clinical Care Standard and supporting resources aim to ensure a consistent approach to optimal treatment of patients with a bacterial infection.
National Antimicrobial Prescribing Survey (NAPS)
The National Antimicrobial Prescribing Survey is a web-based auditing tool and antimicrobial survey program that is conducted annually. The tool is designed to help healthcare facilities assess the quantity and quality of antimicrobial prescribing and monitor the effectiveness of interventions.
Hospitals participate in NAPS voluntarily. A clinician at each site (such as a pharmacist, nurse, infection control practitioner or doctor) completes the audit following a standardised methodology. More information about participating in NAPS is available from the National Centre for Antimicrobial Stewardship.
The following resources may help you to talk to patients about antibiotic resistance and when antibiotics are needed:
What you can do: This fact sheet explains the actions everyone can take to reduce antibiotic resistance.
The Respiratory Tract Infection Action Plan: This resource was developed by NPS MedicineWise. It provides options to help patient with acute respiratory infections who are not prescribed antibiotics.
Childhood RTI Fact Sheet: What every parent should know: This fact sheet was developed by NPS MedicineWise. It may help you to reassure parents about the expected duration of symptoms and how to identify signs of more serious illness. This may help managing their expectation for antibiotics.
Choosing Wisely Australia provides information for patients and carers about antibiotics and antibiotic resistance.
NPS MedicineWise provides important guidance on the correct use of antibiotics.