Seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional before taking antibiotics

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.

Using the evidence-based approach to better antibiotic stewardship

By Chris Bird, MSc Health Policy student at Imperial College and Project Manager in the System Engagement Programme at NICE

This week marks World Antibiotic Awareness Week, the theme of which is to seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional before taking antibiotics.

Antibiotic resistance (AMR) is one of the biggest threats to global health, food security and development in our world today. Antibiotic resistance leads to high medical costs, prolonged hospital stays and increased mortality.

It’s a subject brought home to me as I was lucky enough to study my MSc in the very same historic buildings at St Mary’s Hospital where Alexander Fleming first discovered the miracle of penicillin.

Antibiotic resistance is a true global health issue

By guest blogger, Paul Kiet Tang, Senior Assistant Editor at The Lancet*

Since its discovery and widespread use, antibiotics have been marvelled as a panacea that has revolutionised modern day medicine. Routine surgical procedures, childbirth, and open wounds are no longer associated with high risks of mortality from infections. However, the overuse and misuse of these drugs have led to increased concerns of antibiotic resistance worldwide, with up to 700,000 people dying globally from antibiotic-resistant infections. In the final 2016 report of The Review on Antimicrobial Resistance from the UK Government and the Wellcome Trust, this incidence was projected to increase to 10 million people per year by 2050, costing the global economy up to 100 trillion US dollars and pushing about 28.3 million people into extreme poverty.

Practitioner and patient-targeted interventions to address excessive antibiotic use

By Dr Olga KostopoulouReader in Medical Decision Making and Professor Brendan DelaneyChair 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.