Unnecessary use of antibiotics will reduce their power

10 Nov 2017
Using antibiotics for a whole range of common conditions such as leg ulcers, respiratory tract infections, middle ear infections and fevers in children may be unnecessary and can add to antibiotic resistance, says Choosing Wisely Australia.

With World Antibiotic Awareness Week starting on Monday (13 November), Australians are being reminded to actively discuss the appropriate use of antibiotics with their health professionals.

Choosing Wisely Australia, facilitated by NPS MedicineWise, is a national initiative led by the health profession working to reduce unnecessary healthcare practices. It is encouraging people to have better conversations with their healthcare providers about tests, treatments and procedures.

NPS MedicineWise CEO Dr Lynn Weekes said there are specific clinical indicators for antibiotic use and their unwarranted use can have side effects, including reducing their power.

“Around 29 million prescriptions are issued annually in Australia, making us one of the highest antibiotic prescribers in the world,” Dr Weekes said. “So it’s important for doctors to avoid the unnecessary prescribing of antibiotics and for patients to avoid the unnecessary consumption of antibiotics, or we risk losing their effectiveness.

“Using antibiotics when they’re not needed is a major cause of antibiotic resistance.”

Choosing Wisely Australia has released 14 recommendations around antibiotic use, developed by 10 of Australia’s specialist medical colleges and societies. These include:
  Dr Weekes said: “There’s many things people can do to prevent antibiotic resistance, including only taking antibiotics when they’re needed. Choosing Wisely Australia offers a list of 5 questions people can ask their doctors during their appointments, including about antibiotic use. These include asking about necessity and risk.”

For more on the NPS MedicineWise campaign for World Antibiotic Awareness Week 2017 visit nps.org.au/waaw.

Last reviewed 09 November 2017