Antimicrobial resistance is of global significance. To reduce the risk of harm associated with antibiotic prescribing in Australia, a recent strategy to tackle antimicrobial resistance has included non-medical prescribers. Traditionally, antibiotic prescribing has been the domain of the medical profession but, more recently, nurse practitioners and endorsed midwives have been authorized to prescribe antibiotics. This study describes the antibiotic prescribing practices by nurse practitioners and endorsed midwives in Australia, with clinical implications for international settings.
This was a retrospective analysis of routinely collected aggregated data of anonymous individuals. Data on dispensed prescriptions of antibiotics were obtained from the Australian Department of Human Services, for the period 2005–2016. All antibiotics were allocated to a spectrum class (narrow, moderate, broad). Analysis using descriptive statistics was undertaken to determine the antibiotic prescribing patterns of nurse practitioners and endorsed midwives.
Nurse practitioners have been prescribing within Australia since 2000, and midwives since 2012. Nurse practitioner antibiotic written scripts increased from 3143 during 2005–2011 to 34615 in 2012–2016, while antibiotic written scripts by midwives increased from 2012 (n=2) to 2016 (n=469). Nurse practitioners and midwives prescribed similar classes of antibiotics. These professionals are important non-medical prescribers and are increasingly writing antibiotic prescriptions. Both nursing and midwifery cohorts complete accredited education programs, albeit with some differences in structure.
When prescribing antibiotics, nurse practitioners and midwives are following evidenced-based therapeutic guidelines. They are increasingly relevant clinicians prescribing antibiotics, particularly in acute and primary care settings, which has relevance in global antimicrobial strategies.