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Antibiotic use and misuse in residential aged care facilities

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The prevention and control of transmission of antimicrobial‐resistant pathogens in residential aged care facilities (RACF) is an area that has been neglected yet has significant implications for health services.

The aims of this study were to describe the prevalence and appropriateness of antibiotic use within five RACF associated with our health service.

Demographic data on each RACF and all residents were obtained, and antibiotics prescribed (the type, indication and duration) at the time of the survey were recorded. The appropriateness of antibiotic prescribing was assessed using well‐established criteria.

Of the 257 residents, 28% were greater than 85 years of age, almost 50% were male and 71% had been in their RACF for more than a year. Sixty‐seven per cent were incontinent of urine or faeces, and 80% had some degree of cognitive impairment. Among the residents, 23 (9%) were receiving antibiotics at the time of the survey. Seventeen (74%) were for treatment, while six (26%) were given for prophylactic reasons. Data on the appropriateness of antibiotic use were available for the preceding 26‐month period. During this time, there were 988 antibiotic courses administered; of these, 392 (39.7%) did not fulfil the criteria for bacterial infection.

This Australian study is one of the first to report on the use of antibiotics within RACF, shows a high rate of antimicrobial prescribing and inappropriate antibiotic use. Antibiotic stewardship is of paramount importance in RACF. Programmes to promote the rational use of antibiotics and minimise the emergence of resistant pathogens are urgently required in Australian RACF.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2012

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