Reducing the risk of antibiotic-resistant germs

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Australian hospitals have decreased their use of antibiotics, contributing to a reduction in the spread of antibiotic-resistant germs, according to a new report.

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (the Commission) released the National Antimicrobial Utilisation Surveillance Program (NAUSP) 2015 annual report, showing a 7.6 percent drop in antibiotic use between 2011 and 2015.

The reduction in antibiotic use is part of a push to reduce the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The increasing incidence of resistant bacteria threatens to render some diseases incurable within decades, unless the process can be slowed and newer antibiotics developed.

The reduction in hospital antibiotic use is music to the ears of Professor John Turnidge, the Commission’s Senior Medical Adviser for the Antimicrobial Use and Resistance in Australia (AURA) Coordination Unit, who said the results were heartening.

“Antimicrobial resistance is one of the major issues facing healthcare systems worldwide and seeing Australian hospitals more appropriately using antimicrobials is very encouraging,” said Prof Turnidge.

The report attributes the drop to hospitals implementing effective antimicrobial stewardship programs that ensure patients receive the most appropriate antibiotic treatment.

The number of hospitals participating in the NAUSP has increased from 69 hospitals to 159 hospitals, from 2011 to 2015 and the number of private hospitals participating has also nearly doubled from 11 to 21 hospitals.

More hospitals have embraced the program as participation supports the successful implementation of the National Safety and Quality Health Service Standard 3: Preventing and controlling healthcare associated infections.

“Antimicrobial stewardship programs are a cornerstone of Australia’s response to antimicrobial resistance, and appropriate use of antibiotics will help considerably in slowing the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria,” said Professor Turnidge.

The NAUSP provides standardised measurement of antimicrobial use in Australian adult public and private hospitals, and is an important partner of the Commission’s AURA Surveillance System.

To view the report visit the Commission’s website.

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