Effective antibiotic use can halve superbug infections

PROGRAMMES to ensure effective use of antibiotics can halve the number of hospital infections caused by multidrug-resistant bacteria.

Research published in The Lancet found numbers dropped even further when infection control measures such as good hand hygiene were followed.

Commenting on the findings, NICE said healthcare professionals should select the dose, length of treatment and type of administration (for example, tablets or injection) that is right for the person and the infection. This stewardship, they said, helps to fight resistance because it preserves the usefulness of antibiotics.

NICE deputy chief executive Professor Gillian Leng said antibiotic resistance is a concern for us all.

She said: “Stewardship programmes only work when everyone is on the same page. It can be hard work, but this new research shows the difference we can make when we work together. It is very good news.”

Inappropriate use of antibiotics, such as taking them for viral conditions like flu or for mild infections that may clear-up without treatment, is known to fuel resistance. Multidrug-resistant infections, such as MRSA, are caused by bacteria that can survive treatment with more than one antibiotic. They are more commonly found in a hospital environment and they are very difficult to treat.

NICE have recently completed a review of their antimicrobial stewardship guidelines and are due to publish the results in January.