The Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand

The Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand (TSANZ) is the only health peak body representing a range of professions (medical specialists, scientists, researchers, academics, nurses, physiotherapists, students and others) across various disciplines within the respiratory/sleep medicine field in Australia and New Zealand. The TSANZ is a Health Promotion Charity. TSANZ is committed to serving the professional needs of its members by improving knowledge and understanding of lung disease, with the ultimate goals being to prevent respiratory illness through research and health promotion and to improve health care for people with respiratory illness.

Do not prescribe antibiotics for exacerbation of asthma.

Date reviewed: 14 November 2018

The most recent Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) report does not recommend a role for antibiotics in management of asthma exacerbation unless there is strong evidence of lung infection, such as fever and purulent sputum or radiographic evidence of pneumonia. This is supported by recent trials involving azithromycin (a commonly prescribed antibiotic for management of asthma), which found that this drug had no statistically significant impacts on severity of symptoms during an exacerbation. One small randomised controlled trial (RCT) in young children with recurrent asthma-like symptoms showed that azithromycin reduced the duration of asthma-like symptoms. No RCT has been conducted in children who have a diagnosis of asthma to determine if the rate of severe asthma exacerbation or the severity of asthma symptoms or duration of an asthma exacerbation is reduced by azithromycin. A potential role for azithromycin in reducing the duration of an episode of asthma-like symptoms in children less than 3 years of age requires further investigation. Antibiotic treatment in addition to its lack of efficacy also increases the risk of bacteria resistance for those on long term treatment regimes.

Supporting evidence
  • Brusselle GG, Vanderstichele C, Jordens P, et al. Azithromycin for prevention of exacerbations in severe asthma (AZISAST): a multicentre randomised double-blind placebo-controlled trial. Thorax. 2013;68(4):322-9.
  • 2018 GINA Report, Global Strategy for Asthma Management and Prevention.
  • Li H, Liu DH, Chen LL, et al. Meta-analysis of the adverse effects of long-term azithromycin use in patients with chronic lung diseases. Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2014;58(1):511-7.
  • Johnston SL, Szigeti M, Cross M, et al. Azithromycin for Acute Exacerbations of Asthma The AZALEA Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Intern Med. 2016;176(11):1630–1637.
  • Stokholm J, Chawes BL, Vissing NH, et al. Azithromycin for episodes with asthma-like symptoms in young children aged 1-3 years: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Lancet Respir Med. 2016;4(1):19-26.
How this list was made How this list was made

In 2018 The Royal Australasian College of Physicians worked with a Lead Fellow nominated by The Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand (TSANZ) to review evidence for 12 paediatric thoracic recommendations on low-value care in paediatric thoracic medicine. These recommendations were the subject of email discussions and deliberation by members of the Paediatric Special Interest Group (SIG) of the TSANZ. They were further discussed at a workshop held at a meeting of the Asia Pacific Society of Respirology in 2017, which included TSANZ members. Based on the feedback provided at this workshop and through email discussions with members of the SIG, four were removed and two of the original 12 were considered for inclusion in the final recommendations with overwhelming support. Members of the Paediatric SIG were then invited to choose three out of the remaining six through an email based poll. This served as the basis for final recommendations, which were further refined and developed through successive drafts based on the input of the Lead Fellow, the results of consultation with other specialty groups and the views of the TSANZ Board.

In 2020 TSANZ worked with RACP’s Policy & Advocacy team as part of the Evolve program to develop a long list of low-value practices and interventions that pertain to the specialty. Through extensive research and redrafting under the guidance of the TSANZ Central Office and members of the TSANZ Board, the list was condensed to the top-5 recommendations for reducing low-value practices in adult thoracic medicine. After several rounds of internal consultations and revisions, the list of recommendations was subject to an extensive review process that involved key College societies with an interest in or professional engagement with thoracic medicine.

Per usual processes, the recommendations were then consulted with other medical colleges through Choosing Wisely Australia. Feedback received in the consultations led to further work and refinements by Policy & Advocacy and TSANZ, which approved these top-5 recommendations. 

Download TSANZ Recommendations