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The Antibiotic Awareness Campaign

About antibiotic awareness

Antibiotics are important medicines. They help fight infections that are caused by bacteria. Antibiotic resistance (when an antibiotic is no longer effective) is a major problem. It is one of the most significant threats to patients' safety in Europe. Antibiotic resistance is driven by overusing antibiotics and prescribing them inappropriately. It's important that we use antibiotics the right way, to slow down resistance and make sure these life-saving medicines remain effective for us and future generations.

Watch the “Take care, not antibiotics” videos on this page 

 

European Antibiotic Awareness Day (EAAD)

Every year, European Antibiotic Awareness Day is held on November 18. It's a Europe-wide public health initiative which encourages responsible use of antibiotics. The initiative is supported in England by the Department of Health and its Advisory Committee on Antimicrobial Resistance and Healthcare Associated Infections (ARHAI).

What is the problem?

Antibiotic resistance is an everyday problem in all hospitals across England and Europe. The spread of resistant bacteria in hospitals is a major issue for patients' safety.

  • Infections with antibiotic-resistant bacteria increase levels of disease and death, as well as the length of time people stay in hospitals.
  • Inappropriate use of antibiotics may increasingly cause patients to become colonised or infected with resistant bacteria.
  • Few new antibiotics are being developed. As resistance in bacteria grows, it will become more difficult to treat infection, and this affects patient care. 

What is causing this problem?

Inappropriate use and prescribing of antibiotics in hospitals is causing the development of resistance. 

Inappropriate use includes:

  • not completing a course of antibiotics as prescribed
  • skipping doses of antibiotics
  • not taking antibiotics at regular intervals
  • saving some for later

Inappropriate prescribing includes:

  • unnecessary prescription of antibiotics
  • unsuitable use of broad-spectrum antibiotics
  • wrong selection of antibiotics and inappropriate duration or dose of antibiotics

How can the problem be addressed?

Make antibiotic prescribing a strategic priority in hospitals by:

  • targeting antibiotic therapy
  • implementing structured antimicrobial stewardship plans
  • reviewing local surveillance and assessing microbiological data

Make antibiotic prescribing a priority in primary care by:

  • developing specific antibiotic prescribing guidelines for prescribers

Materials to support EAAD, November 18 2011 in England

To support EAAD and the promotion of sensible antibiotic use, the Department of Health (DH) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) have created information and educational materials for use in hospitals and primary care settings. You can download these and other materials from the DH website. 

Comments are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

lizofleeds said on 18 November 2010

I had a very heavy cold over last Christmas and the New Year. I put up with it as we should do. Then the cold was replaced by a really persistent cough. This went on for three or four weeks, keeping me awake at night and driving colleagues in the office mad. As the cough showed no signs of easing up I went to my GP. I hated to ask for antibiotics but I was practically a zombie at work through lack of sleep, not to mention the headaches and sore throat from coughing. My GP reluctantly prescribed antibiotics and within a few days I was pretty much back to normal. So where do you draw the line? It's not always an easy decision to make.

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Quizers said on 23 October 2010

I have a fiance' whom I guess she has a health problem' because most of the time she like complaining of ads chest n coughing mostly during mornig ours n evening hours,so I don't know what could be problem? Kindly try to help me because I would like to know so that she can get early treated instead of her using antibiotics twenty for hours,which's dangerous to her health according to NHS advice.chao n please help.quizers from kenya.

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fishe1 said on 13 October 2010

I've had a similar problem - lab tests show infection - known immunodeficiency but GP wants to just "wait and see" because that is what he is being told to do. - doesn't understand condition or the guidelines which should take accoount of such - check out NICE guidelines on respiratory tract infections.
On the flip side, as a health care professional I have to tell "normal" people they don't need antibiotics and many don't believe you - this campaing does help a little - it is the GPs who in the past have given out antibiotics for years without thinking that have created a culture of people who think that it will cure them - then wonder why they are still ill a week later.
The campaign is right we need to educate normal healthy people to stop running to the doctors everytime they sneeze - some GPs need to stop throwing antibiotics about like sweets just to get rid of their patients - and read the guidelines properly -or in some cases read their patients notes properly.

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Soozo1 said on 22 September 2010

I'm really angry about this campaign. Doctors also need to be more aware that people who suffer with a bad immune system/chronic fatigue and ME come seeking help and get turned away and told it's just a 'cold'. This has happened to me on several occasions, I've gone in when my chest infection has developed and turned away, then two weeks later i'm prescribed with antibiotics which could've cleared my infection to start off with.

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Last reviewed: 13/10/2011

Next review due: 13/10/2013

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Video: Take care, not antibiotics (hedgehog)

Antibiotics aren't always the answer. Take rest and paracetamol, and drink plenty of fluids instead. You should be feeling fine in no time. Take care, not antibiotics

Video: Take care, not antibiotics (cat)

Antibiotics aren't always the answer. Take rest and paracetamol, and drink plenty of fluids instead. You should be feeling fine in no time. Take care, not antibiotics

Video: Take care, not antibiotics (duck)

Antibiotics aren't always the answer. Take rest and paracetamol, and drink plenty of fluids instead. You should be feeling fine in no time. Take care, not antibiotics

Video: Take care, not antibiotics (dog)

Antibiotics aren't always the answer. Take rest and paracetamol and drink plenty of fluids instead. You should be feeling fine in no time. Take care, not antibiotics

Take care, not antibiotics (parrot)

Antibiotics aren't always the answer. Take rest and paracetamol, and drink plenty of fluids instead. You should be feeling fine in no time. Take care, not antibiotics.