Antimicrobial stewardship: Prescribing across the primary care health professions

Samantha A. Hollingworth, Treasure McGuire, Mieke Van Driel, Nelufa Begum, Pauline J. Ford, Glenda Hawley, Laurence J. Walsh

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We examined the patterns of antibiotic prescribing by medical and non-medical prescribers (dentists, nurse practitioners, and midwives) in Australia. We explored trends in the dispensed use of antibiotics (scripts and defined daily dose [DDD] per 1000 population/day) by Australian prescribers over the 12-year period, 2005-2016. We obtained data on dispensed prescriptions of antibiotics from registered health professionals subsidized on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). There were 216.2 million medical and 7.1 million non-medical dispensed prescriptions for antibiotics over 12 years. The top four antibiotics for medical prescribers were doxycycline; amoxicillin, amoxicillin plus clavulanic acid, and cefalexin, constituting 80% of top 10 use in 2005 and 2016; the top three for non-medical were amoxicillin, amoxicillin plus clavulanic acid and metronidazole (84% of top 10 use in 2016). The proportional increase in antibiotic use was higher for non-medical than medical prescribers. While medical prescribers preferentially prescribed broad-spectrum and non-medical prescribers moderate-spectrum antibiotics, there was a large increase in the use of broad-spectrum antibiotics over time by all prescribers. One in four medical prescriptions were repeats. Overprescribing of broad-spectrum antibiotics conflicts with national antimicrobial stewardship initiatives and guidelines. The proportional higher increase in antibiotic use by non-medical prescribers is a concern. To reduce inappropriate use of antibiotics and antimicrobial resistance, educational strategies targeted at all medical and non-medical prescribers are needed to align prescribing with current best practice within the scope of practice of respective prescribers.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere01106
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalPharmacology research & perspectives
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2023


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