Antibiotics are important medicines, helping to fight infections caused by bacteria. Antibiotic resistance is a major problem. It is one of the most significant threats to patients’ safety in Europe.
Antibiotic resistance is caused by overusing antibiotics and prescribing them inappropriately. It’s important that we use antibiotics correctly to reduce resistance and ensure these life-saving medicines remain effective for us and future generations.
Antibiotic resistance is an everyday problem in all hospitals across England and Europe. The spread of resistant bacteria in hospitals is a major issue for patients’ safety.
- Infections with antibiotic-resistant bacteria increase levels of disease and death, as well as the length of time people stay in hospitals.
- Inappropriate use of antibiotics may increasingly cause patients to become colonised or infected with resistant bacteria.
- Few new antibiotics are being developed. As resistance in bacteria grows, it will become more difficult to treat infection, and this affects patient care.
What is causing this problem?
Inappropriate use and prescribing of antibiotics in hospitals is causing the development of resistance.
Inappropriate use includes:
- not completing a course of antibiotics as prescribed
- skipping doses of antibiotics
- not taking antibiotics at regular intervals
- saving some for later
Inappropriate prescribing includes:
- unnecessary prescription of antibiotics
- unsuitable use of broad-spectrum antibiotics
- wrong selection of antibiotics and inappropriate duration or dose of antibiotics
How can the problem be addressed?
Make antibiotic prescribing a strategic priority in hospitals by:
- targeting antibiotic therapy
- implementing structured antimicrobial stewardship plans
- reviewing local surveillance and assessing microbiological data
Make antibiotic prescribing a priority in primary care by:
- developing specific antibiotic prescribing guidelines for those prescribing.