Strategic approach needed to address antimicrobial resistance: RACGP

20 November, 2017

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) says a united and strategic approach to addressing the problem of antibiotic resistance is critical to protect Australian patients.

RACGP President Dr Bastian Seidel said a comprehensive, coordinated and effective investigation into antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and antimicrobial use must be a national priority.

"We are facing a future with less effective antimicrobial agents, and some harsh realities need to be faced by both clinicians and government," Dr Seidel said.

"Global and local efforts are needed to protect the effectiveness of antibiotics and to contain and reduce antibiotic resistance."

Dr Seidel said if Australia is to overcome the issue of antimicrobial resistance, an ongoing strategy is vital. The strategy must involve:

  1. Collaboration with federal and state governments to identify and measure:
    1. Prescribing activity in primary health care
    2. Rates of community antibiotic microbiome resistance
    3. Hospital admissions and emergency department presentation rates monitoring serious infections that might have been mitigated by antibiotic use in the community setting
  2. Collaborative development and promotion of educational resources on AMR and to reduce demand for antibiotics
  3. More educational activities and resources for GPs on effective methods for assisting in the safe reduction of antibiotic prescribing
  4. Funding for further research into strategies for addressing antibiotic use and AMR in general practice as well as established AMS programs for general practice care

Dr Seidel said GPs should be considered a key part of the solution to Australia's concerning antibiotics prescribing issues.

"Antimicrobial resistance is a major problem, and part of it can be addressed in general practice," Dr Seidel said.

"We are hearing time and time again that GP over-prescribing of antibiotics is leading Australian patients down a dangerous path.

"But GPs are the solution. GPs have a vital role to play in maintaining antibiotics effectiveness, in addition to educating the public on their appropriate use and emerging resistance.

Dr Seidel said the main priority must be patient safety.

"First and foremost we have to consider our patients' wellbeing," Dr Seidel said.

"This is not simply about reducing antibiotic prescriptions.

"The RACGP is committed to helping GPs to deal with expectations, change management and the implementation of new initiatives to reduce antibiotic use where safe to do so."

The RACGP has called for the implementation of an antimicrobial stewardship program in general practice in its 2018-19 pre-budget submission.