Simple Guidelines Reduce Needless Use of Antibiotics
During the past 2 decades, resistance and overuse of Antibiotics have surfaced as potential threats. A study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases revealed that an outbreak of Clostridium difficile infections, which is often a consequence of antibiotic use, provoked health care professionals in Quebec, Canada to initiate an education campaign targeting physicians and pharmacists to limit outpatient antibiotic use.
In an effort to develop guidelines that improve prescribing practices, physicians and pharmacists collaborated with the Minister of Health and Medication Council of Quebec.
The guidelines, which were first issued in January 2005, focused on proper antibiotic use, which included not selecting the shortest treatment duration by prescribing antibiotics during suspected viral infections.
Not only 30,000 prints of the original recommendations were distributed to all physicians and pharmacists in Quebec but also an additional 193,500 copies were downloaded from the Medication Council’s website.
The number of outpatient antibiotic prescriptions in Quebec decreased by 4.2 percent following the initial distribution of the guidelines during that year. Other Canadian provinces witnessed a 6.5 percent increase in the number of these prescriptions during the same period.
Study author Karl Weiss, MD, of the University of Montreal said: “It is possible to decrease antibiotic consumption when physicians, pharmacists, state governments, etc., are working together for a common goal. This is the key to success: having everybody involved and speaking with a common voice.”
“Simple, short, easy-to-use guidelines have an impact on physicians when they are readily available. The web is an increasingly important tool to reach our audience and should now be used as such in the future. With handheld electronic devices available for all health care professionals, these downloadable guidelines can be accessed and used at any time and any circumstance,” added Dr. Weiss.