Researchers find more than a third of suspected infections were treated with antibiotics even when they didn’t fulfill the criteria for clinical infection.
The inappropriate use of antibiotics could transform Australian residential aged care facilities into "a reservoir" of drug-resistant bacteria, researchers have said.
In an article in the Medical Journal of Australia published today, doctors David Kong and Anton Peleg said they found an inappropriate use of antibiotics after studying four Melbourne residential aged care facilities.
They said 37 per cent of suspected infections were treated with antibiotics even when they did not fulfill the criteria for clinical infection.
Meanwhile, only 36 per cent of suspected infections that were treated with antibiotics had documentation that clinical specimens were obtained to confirm the diagnosis.
This setting "may result in [facilities] becoming a reservoir for multi-resistant organisms", they said.
But they also said the findings reflected the difficulty in assessing residents, with routine ordering of microbiological tests not always practical at the facilities.
The involvement of numerous laboratories looking after a resident’s specimens and results taking time to come back also made it difficult, they said.
In addition they said the difficulties in clinical diagnosis and the lack of clinical cultures made it harder to monitor trends towards antibiotic resistance in the elderly patients.
"Accordingly, alternative approaches, such as periodic surveillance of antimicrobial resistance patterns, may be more feasible in this setting," they said.
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