Antibiotic Awareness Week – Handle with Care!

This year during Antibiotic Awareness Week (AAW) clinicians are being asked to ‘handle with care’ in order to ‘preserve the miracle’. There are several key messages being promoting to ensure antibiotics are always used safely and appropriately.

AAW is supported by the:

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  •  A patient with a life-threatening condition due to a suspected bacterial infection must receive PROMPT antibiotic treatment without waiting for the results of investigations.

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  •   Preferably cultures should be taken before starting antibiotic treatment for a suspected bacterial infection
    •  This may include blood tests, urine cultures or wound swabs.
  • However, antibiotic administration should never be delayed

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  • Antibiotic prescriptions should be in accordance with the Therapeutic Guidelines (or local antibiotic formulary).
  •   The patient’s clinical condition and/or microbiology results should also be considered.
  • Remember to consider the patient’s allergy status and any co-morbidities.

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  • Always ensure the patient and/or carer is provided with the following information about their antibiotics:
    •   When, how and for how long they should be taken
    •  Potential side effects
    •  The review plan – does the patient need to return for follow-up?

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  • With every antibiotic prescription, the following information should be documented in the patient’s health record:
    •   Drug name, dose and route of administration
    •   Review plan:
      •   Facilitates clear communication with others caring for the patient

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  • When investigations are conducted for a suspected bacterial infection, the responsible clinician should review the results in a timely manner AND adjust antibiotic therapy. That is:
    •   Review within 24 hours of results being available
    •  Adjust antibiotics based on patient’s clinical condition and microbiology results

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  •  Review treatment for patient’s receiving broad spectrum antibiotics, and if indicated, switch to narrower-spectrum agent.
    •  Consider patient’s clinical condition and microbiology results
    •    Consider using an oral alternative where ever possible, if:
      •  The patient has clinically improved and is able to tolerate oral intake
      •  There are no ongoing or potential absorption problems
      •   There is no need for prolonged IV therapy or high tissue concentrations
      •   A suitable oral alternative is available

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