Monday, July 15

Drugs are Being Incorrectly Prescribed Across Australia

In Australia, more than 11 million people — half the entire population — were prescribed drugs in 2014 to fight off various infections.

According to AU News, a large portion of those prescriptions was inappropriately given to patients. The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality Health Care (ACSQHC) found that many of these prescriptions did not comply with hospital and healthcare guidelines.

These antimicrobial drugs can potentially save someone’s life if prescribed correctly. If these drugs are incorrectly prescribed, however, severe problems can occur.

The Mercury reports that Australia now has the highest rate in the world of vancomycin resistant enterococcus faecium, or VRE, a superbug resulting from medication overuse.

“Antibiotic resistance has developed because of the overuse and misuse of antibiotics,” said John Turnidge, Senior Medical Advisor at the ACSQHC. “Bacterial infections that were once easily cured with antibiotics are becoming harder to treat.”

On any given day in 2014, 38% of Australian patients were given an antimicrobial. The most common reason for the prescriptions was to prevent infections after a surgical operation. Wholly 40% of those prescriptions were ruled as inappropriate.

Some prescriptions were caused by flu symptoms and even more common infections like the common cold. In 2012, the most common urgent care procedure was wound repair, and the most common diagnosis was for upper respiratory conditions. According to the ACSQHC, inappropriate prescriptions to treat upper respiratory infections have decreased because more than half of all those prescriptions were deemed inappropriate because they went against healthcare guidelines.

“It’s timely for us to again address common misconceptions that unfortunately seem to persist about appropriate use of antibiotics during cold and flu season,” said Dr. Lynne Weeks, NPS MedicineWise CEO.

Turnidge hopes that this new information will be useful to change the way antimicrobial medications are prescribed.

“Antimicrobial resistance is one of the most significant challenges for the delivery of safe, high-quality health services,” Turnidge said, “and has a direct impact on patient care and outcomes.”

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