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Home Topics Infectious Diseases Infections A-Z Antibiotic resistance

Antibiotic resistance

Antibiotic capsules

Why is antibiotic awareness important?  Antibiotic resistance is linked to the extent and the way in which patients and prescribers use antibiotics. Inappropriate use of antibiotics is the main driver of antibiotic resistance. 

November 18 is European Antibiotic Awareness Day: a Europe-wide public health initiative aimed at encouraging responsible use of antibiotics.

Press releases

Misuse of antibiotics 

  • When antibiotics are prescribed unnecessarily
  • When antibiotic administration is delayed in critically ill patients
  • When broad-spectrum antibiotics are used indiscriminately, or when narrow-spectrum antibiotics are used incorrectly
  • When the dose of antibiotics is lower or higher than appropriate for the specific patient
  • When the duration of antibiotic treatment is too short or too long
  • When antibiotic treatment is not streamlined according to microbiological culture data results

Prudent use of antibiotics can prevent the emergence and selection of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. All hospital prescribers can play an active role in reversing the increasing rates of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Figure 1: Principle routes outlining the potential transfer pathways for antibiotic resistance genes between humans, animals, food and the environment


 HPA and HPA-supported resources

  • The HPA's Primary Care Unit has launched an updated version of Management of Infection Guidance for Primary Care. The guidance has been reviewed extensively, with a fully referenced rationale section now available after the four-page guidance.  It includes new short sections on conjunctivitis and herpes labialis.The Comments section with each clinical scenario have also been rewritten and referenced.
  • The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) has developed an on-line module, Managing Acute Respiratory Tract Infections, in collaboration with the HPA, from RCGP's online training environment [external link].
    The module details the evidence of why it is crucial to evaluate and reduce our prescribing: to ensure that antibiotics are prescribed for those who will benefit from them, and to explain, reassure and educate the large group of patients who will not. 
  • eBug  is a free educational resource for classroom use which provides activities and lesson plans covering micro organisms, and the spread, prevention and treatment of infection.
    The e-Bug team recently upgraded their website to include specifically children focused pages. Children can now use the junior or senior aged web pages at home, independently of teachers.

Department of Health resources

The Department of Health has created a number of toolkit materials [external link].They include fact sheets, checklists for prescribers and managers, and posters and promotional materials.

ECDC resources

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has created materials for EAAD for download, from [external link]. See the External Links to reach resources including

  • factsheets detailing the main issues surrounding antibiotic resistance in hospital settings for managers and prescribers;
  • a slide presentation for use in hospital training;
  • a screensaver and checklist outlining the main considerations that prescribers should consider
  • short videos for the public, including a sneezing panda and hedgehog, as a fun way to remind people to 'Take care, not antibiotics'.