Encouraging good antimicrobial prescribing practice: A review of antibiotic prescribing policies used in the South East Region of England

Wiffen, Philip J.; White, Richard T. Mayon
January 2001
BMC Public Health;2001, Vol. 1, p4
Academic Journal
Background: Good prescribing practice has an important part to play in the fight against antimicrobial resistance. Whilst it was perceived that most hospitals and Health Authorities possessed an antibiotic policy, a review of antibiotic policies was conducted to gain an understanding of the extent, quality and usefulness of these policies. Methods: Letters were sent to pharmacists in hospitals and health authorities in across the South East region of the National Health Service Executive (NHSE) requesting antibiotic policies. data were extracted from the policies to assess four areas; antibiotic specific, condition specific, patient specific issues and underpinning evidence. Results: Of a possible 41 hospital trusts and 14 health authorities, 33 trusts and 9 health authorities (HAs) provided policies. Both trust and HA policies had a median publication date of 1998 (trust range 1993-99, HA 1994-99). Eleven policies were undated. The majority of policies had no supporting references for the statements made. All policies provided some details on specific antibiotics. Gentamicin and ciprofloxacin were the preferred aminoglycoside and quinolone respectively with cephalosporins being represented by cefuroxime or cefotaxime in trusts and cephradine or cephalexin in HAs. 26 trusts provided advice on surgical prophylaxis, 17 had meningococcal prophylaxis policies and 11 covered methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). There was little information for certain groups such as neonates or children, the pregnant or the elderly. Conclusion: There was considerable variation in content and quality across policies, a clear lack of an evidence base and a need to revise policies in line with current recommendations.


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