Use antibiotics effectively to reduce drug-resistance

Good management of antibiotics can halve the number of people picking-up drug-resistant infections in hospital, new data suggests.

Research, published in the Lancet, has found antibiotic stewardship programmes can reduce the number of hospital infections caused by multidrug-resistant bacteria by 51%. It also shows the number of people experiencing drug-resistant infections decreases further when infection control measures, such as good hand hygiene, are followed.

NICE says, healthcare professionals should select the dose, length of treatment and type of administration (for example, tablets or injection) that is right for the person and the infection. This stewardship helps to fight resistance because it preserves the usefulness of antibiotics.

Professor Gillian Leng, deputy chief executive at NICE said: “Antibiotic resistance is a concern for us all. If we do not act now we face a future where these medicines will no-longer work, which would mean people would die from routine surgery and other common infections we can currently treat.

“Stewardship programmes only work when everyone is on the same page. It can be hard work, but this new research shows the difference we can make when we work together. It is very good news.”

Inappropriate use of antibiotics, such as taking them for viral conditions like flu, or for mild infections that may clear-up without treatment is known to fuel resistance.

Multidrug-resistant infections are caused by bacteria that can survive treatment with more than one antibiotic. They are more commonly found in a hospital environment and they are very difficult to treat. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is the most well-known.