Barwon Health helping slow spread of resistant viruses

Tuesday, 11 July 2017.

Antibiotics use has dropped markedly in Australian hospitals, new figures show, as Barwon Health works towards slowing the spread of highly resistant germs.

A formal Antimicrobial Stewardship Program has been in place at Barwon Health since 2011 to optimise antibiotic use and reduce unnecessary prescribing of the medications, which aim to stop resilient viruses that cause dangerous infections.

Australian and international health authorities have warned bacteria are developing a resistance through excessive or unnecessary use of antibiotics, which are prescribed to hospital patients to treat infections, or to reduce the risk of infections developing during and after procedures and surgery.

A new report released by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care shows the use of antibiotics in hospitals fell by 7.6 per cent between 2011 and 2015 - a sign that efforts to encourage more appropriate use of antibiotics and other antimicrobial drugs are having an effect.

A Bond University report this week stated that doctors were prescribing antibiotics at up to nine times recommended rates.

The new study, published in the Medical Journal of Australia, shows Australians are among the biggest users of antibiotics in the world, despite experts warning that excessive or unnecessary use helps more bacteria become resistant to the drugs.

Barwon Health Antimicrobial Stewardship Pharmacist Alicia Neels said University Hospital Geelong had regular audits of antimicrobial prescribing in an effort to identify usage of broad spectrum antibiotics and adherence to clinical guidelines.

“In 2016, our prescribing of two broad spectrum antibiotics (piperacillin/tazobactam and ceftriaxone) were reduced significantly, below the national average, and replaced by narrower spectrum agents, which is a great result for Barwon Health,” she said.

“When compared to national prescribing, our appropriateness of prescribing has always exceeded the national average and similarly our inappropriate prescribing rates are lower than average.

“Our trends in antibiotic usage are in line with, or below national rates.

“We also monitor the volume of different antibiotics used in each area of the hospital to identify changes in use.”

Traditional Owners

We, Barwon Health, acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land, the Wadawurrung people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to the Elders both past and present.