Antibiotic Awareness Week

The Royal Hobart Hospital's 'resistance fighters' are out in force this week to raise awareness of the dangers of antibiotic resistance and promote the responsible use of antibiotics.

Australian Antibiotic Awareness Week starts today with this year's campaign focusing on 'no action today, no cure tomorrow' and promoting improvements to antibiotic prescribing.

RHH Pharmacy Manager Duncan McKenzie said inappropriate and over use of antibiotics was a major driver of antibiotic resistance.

"This is a serious issue because patients with infections from resistant bacteria experience delayed recovery and even treatment failure, which can result in death," Mr McKenzie said.

The World Health Organisation regards antibiotic resistance as one of the biggest threats to human health. Research has shown that up to half of antibiotic courses prescribed in Australian hospitals are considered inappropriate.

The Royal Hobart Hospital is playing a leading role to better antibiotic use and has a nationally recognised approach through its Antibiotic Stewardship Project.

The Antibiotic Stewardship team, consisting of antibiotic specialist doctors and pharmacists, provides daily advice and recommendations about antibiotic use.

They have also developed guidelines for the treatment and prevention of infection.

"Since the introduction of the project, costs associated with antibiotic use has reduced by nearly half.

"This is helping to reduce resistance to antibiotics, and as a result, helps save lives," Mr McKenzie said.

The community also has an important role to play. There are three key ways to reduce antibiotic resistance:

  • Do not expect or request antibiotics for colds and flu as they have no effects on viruses
  • If prescribed antibiotics, take them as prescribed
  • Wash your hands to prevent the spread of germs.

"Just taking these simple steps can play an incredibly important role in helping to reduce resistance to antibiotics," Mr McKenzie said.

18 November 2013