Why antibiotic use is important:

Antibiotics are a vital tool for modern medicine. Not only for the treatment of infections such as pneumonia, meningitis and tuberculosis. We also need them to avoid infections for example during chemotherapy, caesarean sections and other surgery.

Antibiotic resistance occurs when an antibiotic has lost its ability to effectively control or kill bacterial growth; in other words, the bacteria are “resistant” and continue to multiply in the presence of the antibiotic. Antibiotic resistance is linked to antibiotic prescribing. The more we use antibiotics the more likely we will see antibiotic resistance.

The rate of antibiotic resistance is increasing. This will mean more infections will be untreatable. By 2050, antibiotic-resistant bugs could kill an estimated 10 million people each year.


Why use in care homes is important:

Residents in care homes are particularly susceptible to the harms from antibiotic use. These harms include increased risk of adverse drug events, drug interactions, and colonization and/or infection with antibiotic-resistant organisms. Furthermore the extent of antibiotic prescribing in care homes is particularly high.

A study in America found that up to 70% of residents in a care home receive one or more courses of (intravenous and/or oral) antibiotics when followed over a year. It is estimated that 40–75% of antibiotics prescribed in care homes may be unnecessary or inappropriate. A study in England found that patients in care homes are more likely to receive antibiotics than people of a similar age in the community.

What can YOU do:

  • Question whether the antibiotic is appropriate: Studies indicate that around HALF of antibiotics prescribed in in hospitals and care may be unnecessary or inappropriate.
  • Reduce / stop antibiotic use in asymptomatic bacteriuria (ASB): The most frequent indication for antibiotic prescriptions in care homes is for the prevention or treatment of urinary tract infections. ASB without signs or symptoms of urinary tract infection ranges from 25% to 50% in non-catheterized nursing home residents and up to 100% among those with long-term urinary catheters. Antibiotic use for treatment of ASB in nursing home residents does not offer any benefit in preventing symptomatic urinary tract infections.
  • Ensure residents drink plenty and stay well hydrated: Dehydration is the underlying cause of many common conditions including constipation, falls, urinary tract infections and kidney injury. Keep an eye on urine output and colour.
  • Provide accurate information to doctors: Diagnostic and treatment decisions will often rely on accurate assessment and information provided by front-line staff.
  • Encourage short antibiotic treatment courses for common infections: A study of antibiotic prescribing in care homes demonstrated that over 50% of antibiotic treatment courses extended beyond a week. Short courses of antibiotic are often sufficient to treat common infections.
  • Ensure antibiotics are given at the correct time and follow instructions regarding before or after food. This will ensure the maximum benefit is received from the antibiotic.
  • Become an antibiotic guardian: Choose one simple pledge about how you’ll make better use of antibiotics and help save these vital medicines from becoming obsolete. http://antibioticguardian.com/