Scottish Government
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Smarter prescribing cuts C.diff

Fewer antibiotics are now being prescribed in Scotland and patients are reaping the rewards - with significant decreases in clostridium difficile infections.

In 2009-10, 47,000 fewer antibiotic prescriptions were dispensed in the community compared with the previous year, reversing a previous upward trend.

There was also a 20 per cent reduction in antibiotics associated with a higher risk of C.diff infection. In hospitals, new antibiotic policies have also reduced the use of these antibiotics.

Over the same period, C.diff infections in the over 65s fell from 5,613 in 2008-09 to 3,112 in 2009-10 - down 44 per cent. Certain types of antibiotic are associated with increased risk of C.diff infection.

Speaking on European Antibiotic Awareness Day, Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said:

"Reducing the misery caused by C.diff has been a priority for me and huge efforts have been made to reduce infections in our hospitals.

"Prudent prescribing is one area which has been addressed and there's a clear link between the downward trend in antibiotic prescribing and reduction in C.diff infections

"Antibiotics have revolutionised medicine but we must use them appropriately to avoid problems associated with resistance and over-use and ensure that they remain effective for future generations.

"Clinicians have a key role to play but the public can also help by not always expecting to get antibiotics from their GP. Taking antibiotics unnecessarily or not following the dosage instructions can make bacteria resistant and, while we cannot stop resistance, we can stop it getting worse by using antibiotics wisely.

"Scotland has led the way in the UK by setting up a national group, with a network of local teams, to tackle antibiotic prescribing and the evidence shows this is delivering results which I expect to continue in future."

In Dundee's Ninewells Hospital a strictly enforced new antibiotic policy was introduced in October 2008.

A subsequent study of antibiotic use showed that between January 2009 and January 2010 there was a 41 per cent reduction in C.diff rates. The study showed that this reduction could be attributed largely to changes in antibiotic use but also recognising the continuing importance of infection control and cleaning.

Professor Dilip Nathwani, lead clinician for NHS Tayside's Antimicrobial Management Team and chair of the Scottish Antimicrobial Prescribing Group, said:

"These improvements in the use of antibiotics suggest that the Scottish Antimicrobial Prescribing Group, through working with local antimicrobial management teams, is having a positive impact on the quality of antibiotic prescribing in Scotland.

"We are proud of this work but should not be complacent as we have lot more to do in other areas and make even further improvement where we have seen benefit. We value the partnership of clinicians and the public in realising this goal."

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