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Expert says nurses can help improve antimicrobial use

A report has provided a snapshot of antimicrobial use in Australian hospitals and one expert says nurses can affect future results.

National Antimicrobial Prescribing Practice: results of the 2014 National Antimicrobial Prescribing Survey (NAPS), was released by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care and the National Centre for Antimicrobial Stewardship (NCAS) at the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity.

Just under one-quarter of the approximately 20,000 prescriptions surveyed were non-compliant with guidelines and 23 per cent were deemed inappropriate.

The commission’s senior medical adviser, professor John Turnidge, said: “The NAPS report shows us there is still significant room for improvement in the appropriateness of antimicrobial prescribing at the hospital level. We need to ensure patients receive the right antibiotic for their condition, the right dose, at the right time and for the right length of time, based on accurate assessment and timely review.”

University of Melbourne associate professor Karin Thursky, director of NCAS, said nursing staff are underused in the area of antimicrobial prescribing.

Thursky said: “We have many nurses who want to learn about antimicrobial stewardship, they want to become involved in helping to co-ordinate patient care. I think there is a particularly exciting opportunity for nurses to train up as nurse practitioners.

“Because they see the patient in a very holistic way, once they become expert prescribers and understand it, I think they will play an increasingly important role.”

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