ANTIBIOTICS are used widely around the world to treat bacterial infections in humans and animals. The effectiveness of these antibiotics is decreasing at an alarming rate, and worse still, development of new antibiotics has slowed dramatically.
Every time we take an antibiotic there is a risk that resistant strains develop. Antibiotics are used on a daily basis for many routine medical procedures such as:
- Hip or knee replacements.
- Organ transplants.
- Cancer surgery.
How can community pharmacists help?
As community pharmacists we have a role in antibiotic stewardship, educating patients and working with other professionals to promote the safe and effective use of antibiotics. There are a number of ways to help, but I think that carefully re-visiting the usual duration of symptoms for common conditions encountered in the community pharmacy is a really good place to start.
As professionals we must ensure that antibiotics are prescribed:
- When clinically appropriate.
- At the correct dose.
- For the correct length of time.
The mnemonic FRAIS is a useful tool for community pharmacists and their teams to use when counselling patients who have been prescribed antibiotics.
F – Finish the course
R – Take at regular intervals
A – Take after, with or before food
I – Be aware of drug interactions
S – Discuss possible side effects with the patient
Many patients expect an antibiotic after a consultation. There is a significant role as an antibiotic guardian to educate the patient that there is more often than not no need for a GP appointment or indeed a need for an antibiotic to be prescribed.
The following list devised by the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) gives an indication on the average duration of common conditions.
Ear infection Four days
Sore throat One week
Common cold One and a half weeks
Sinusitis Two and a half weeks
Cough/Bronchitis Three weeks
Thank you for reading and good luck being an antibiotic guardian!
Now why not try our CPD quiz to test your knowledge of what it means to become an antibiotic guardian. To try the quiz click HERE. Good luck!