By Dr Timothy Rawson, Clinical Research Fellow, Esmita Charani, Senior Lead Pharmacist and Dr Enrique Castro Sanchez, Academic Research Nurse all from the Faculty of Medicine, Department of Medicine
Antibiotics are a powerful resource that allows us to safely perform surgery, treat cancer with chemotherapy, and recover from infections that over 100 years ago would have killed even the fittest among us.
We are seeing however, a dramatic increase in infections with bacteria resistant to the killing effects of antibiotics (termed drug-resistant infections). These are antibiotics that until recently used to be effective. These resistant bacteria make many infections more and more difficult to treat – in some cases causing patients to die because we no longer have antibiotics that are able to manage the infection.
By Dr Olga Kostopoulou, Reader in Medical Decision Making and Professor Brendan Delaney, Chair in Medical Informatics and Decision Making at Imperial College London
Combatting antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is high on policy agendas internationally. One of the key means advocated is judicious antibiotic prescribing. Over 80% of all NHS antibiotic prescriptions are issued in primary care, where despite numerous campaigns, mandates and financial incentives, rates have fallen only slightly in the past year. Acute respiratory infections and associated complications, such as pneumonia, are the commonest justification for primary care antibiotic use, despite strong evidence of small to modest symptomatic benefits.