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Ther Adv Drug Saf. 2014 Dec;5(6):229-41. doi: 10.1177/2042098614554919.

Antimicrobial resistance: risk associated with antibiotic overuse and initiatives to reduce the problem.

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School of Medicine, Cardiff University, Department of Primary Care and Public Health, 5th Floor Neuadd Meirionnydd, Heath Park, Cardiff CF14 4XN, UK.
Section of General Practice and Research Unit for General Practice, Department of Public Health, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark.


Antimicrobial resistance is a global public health challenge, which has accelerated by the overuse of antibiotics worldwide. Increased antimicrobial resistance is the cause of severe infections, complications, longer hospital stays and increased mortality. Overprescribing of antibiotics is associated with an increased risk of adverse effects, more frequent re-attendance and increased medicalization of self-limiting conditions. Antibiotic overprescribing is a particular problem in primary care, where viruses cause most infections. About 90% of all antibiotic prescriptions are issued by general practitioners, and respiratory tract infections are the leading reason for prescribing. Multifaceted interventions to reduce overuse of antibiotics have been found to be effective and better than single initiatives. Interventions should encompass the enforcement of the policy of prohibiting the over-the-counter sale of antibiotics, the use of antimicrobial stewardship programmes, the active participation of clinicians in audits, the utilization of valid rapid point-of-care tests, the promotion of delayed antibiotic prescribing strategies, the enhancement of communication skills with patients with the aid of information brochures and the performance of more pragmatic studies in primary care with outcomes that are of clinicians' interest, such as complications and clinical outcomes.


Antibiotic resistance; point-of-care tests; primary care; rational use of antibiotics; strategies

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