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Australian hospitals have reduced their antibiotic use

Photo: Hospitals pull back on antibiotic use
Antibiotic use in Australian hospitals has taken a dip, with medical experts saying the move will help in the fight against superbugs.

The amount of antibiotics given to hospital patients to treat infections or reduce the risk of them developing fell by more than seven per cent between 2011 and 2015, a report released by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care shows.

The report by the National Antimicrobial Utilisation Surveillance Program found that 916.4 daily doses of antibiotics were given to patients for every 1,000 occupied bed days in hospital in 2015 - a two per cent drop on the previous year and 7.6 per cent lower than in 2011.
The commission's senior medical advisor Professor John Turnidge said the report indicates hospitals have taken steps to ensure that more patients receive the most appropriate antibiotic treatment.

"Appropriate use of antibiotics will help considerably in slowing the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria," he said in a statement on Wednesday.

Australians are among the biggest users of antibiotics in the world despite experts here and around the globe warning that excessive or unnecessary use helps more bacteria become resistant to the drugs.

The report found Australia has a higher use of antibiotics in hospitals than Sweden and the Netherlands.

Twenty antibacterials, including amoxicillin and azithromycin, accounted for 93 per cent of antibiotics used in Australian hospitals in 2015.

The use of "highly reserved" antibacterials considered to be the last line of defence when treating bacterial infections was found to be low.

The World Health Organisation has called the rise of antibiotic resistance a global crisis.

Many common infections including pneumonia have become harder to treat because the over-use of antibiotics has made them ineffective at fighting certain types of bacteria.

Last month, an emergency summit of 300 infectious diseases experts called for a national body to be set up in Australia to co-ordinate the fight against the spread of superbugs, which they described as a major patient safety issue.

They want a central authority to co-ordinate areas such as infection control, surveillance and the use of antibiotics.


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