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Published on 13 September 2007

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Postoperative antibiotics “often overprescribed”

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Hospital patients often receive excessive amounts of antibiotics in a bid to prevent postoperative infections, research has shown.

Researchers at Sunderland University in the UK investigated the use of antibiotics following surgery at Sunderland Royal Hospital.

Current guidelines recommend set doses to reduce the risk of postoperative infections, but researchers found 75% of patients received more antibiotics than the recommended level.

A previous study of antibiotic prescribing at Sunderland Royal Hospital in 2006 revealed more than half of the patients received more than the recommended dose of certain drugs.

As a result, the hospital’s pharmacy department adjusted the electronic prescribing system so that when medicines were being prescribed, a mandatory stop date had to be included.

The recent research audited the effectiveness of that system, and found a 20% increase in overprescribing – indicating that the stop date may prolong courses of antibiotics because there is no need for a review of patient’s medications.

Study leader Dr Rachel Etherington said: “There is an urgent need for pharmacists to play a role in advising prescribers of appropriate length of antibiotic treatment and for the introduction of agreed local guidelines.

“The overprescribing of antibiotics can decrease their future effectiveness and lead to antibiotic resistance.”

Copyright © PA Business 2007

University of Sunderland



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