Healthcare professionals across Sussex should encourage sensible use of antibiotics and cut back on unnecessary prescribing of the drugs to help tackle the rise in antibiotic resistance – according to health watchdog NICE.
Antibiotics, used for the treatment of infections, such as pneumonia, meningitis and tuberculosis are also used to prevent infections occurring during surgery and cancer treatment.
However, the more antibiotics are used the less effective they become as overusing the gives resistant bacteria a greater chance to survive and spread.
A spokesman for NICE, (National Institute for Healthcare and Excellence) said the problem is made worse because the discovery of new antibiotics is at an all-time low.
Figures released by NICE suggest 9 out of 10 GPs say that they feel pressured to prescribe antibiotics, and 97 per cent of patients who ask for antibiotics are prescribed them.
Professor Mark Baker, Director of the Centre for Clinical Practice at NICE said: “Antibiotics are prescribed in circumstances when they are unlikely to do the patient much good.
“Knowledge amongst GPs is well established that many patients with early or benign infections do not require and will not benefit from antibiotics. The vast majority of GPs will tell patients that.
“I don’t think there is a lot of bad practice in general practice but it is clear that the reduction in antibiotic prescribing that we expected to see when our 2007 guideline on upper respiratory tract infections was published has not happened.
“The rise in inappropriate prescribing comes in the face of successive attempts by NICE and by government to reduce it that simply haven’t worked. Some of it is about the pressure put on GPs. Despite that pressure, prescribing an antibiotic when you know it’s unlikely to do the patient much good is not good practice.
“It’s not just prescribers who should be questioned about their attitudes and beliefs about antibiotics”, added Professor Baker.
“It’s often patients themselves who, because they don’t understand that their condition will clear up by itself, or that perhaps antimicrobials aren’t effective in treating it, may put pressure on their doctor to prescribe an antibiotic when it is not indicated and they are unlikely to benefit from it.”
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