NPS MedicineWise is urging all health professionals to take the pledge to fight antibiotic resistance after new research shows that making a public commitment leads to significant improvements in antibiotic prescribing.
The study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, reported a 19.7% drop in inappropriate prescribing over three months after doctors displayed a signed poster in their practice explaining their commitment to the judicious use of antibiotics.
The authors suggest that when extrapolated to the whole country, this public commitment intervention could eliminate 2.6 million unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions in the United States each year.
Clinical Advisor at NPS MedicineWise, Dr Philippa Binns, says this study is fantastic news for more than 3000 health professionals who have already taken the pledge to fight antibiotic resistance in Australia.
"Last November during Antibiotic Awareness Week, NPS MedicineWise launched an interactive, online tool to encourage all health professionals to publicly commit to preserve the miracle of antibiotics," says Dr Binns.
"More than 3,700 health professionals have since taken the pledge, each making a public commitment to be a champion for the appropriate use of antibiotics when prescribing, dispensing, offering advice, or answering questions about antibiotics.
"Taking the pledge is quick and easy but it's far from a hollow gesture. This new research just goes to show that simple actions today can mean a big difference to our health well into the future.
"If 25,000 health professionals take the pledge; display their certificate of commitment in their practice; and take the opportunity to discuss antibiotic resistance with their patients and customers, we will be nearer our target to bring Australian in line with the OECD country average for antibiotic prescribing."
Dr Binns says while the new research demonstrates the value of public commitment interventions amongst GPs, the rise and spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria due to the overuse and misuse of antibiotics is a challenge that confronts a broad cross-section of the community.
"Antibiotic resistance is everyone's problem. It's time for policy-makers; professionals across the health, pharmaceutical, science and agricultural industries; and the community at large to band together to champion the judicious use of antibiotics.
"Over the past 18 months 40,000 Australian consumers have pledged to join NPS MedicineWise in the fight against antibiotic resistance. But with around 19 million prescriptions written in Australia every year, we are still among the highest users of antibiotics in the developed world.
"As health professionals, whether we prescribe, dispense, or provide advice about antibiotics, we all have a responsibility to do our bit to ensure these life-saving medicines are used appropriately.
"And if we unite as a community of health professionals, committed to changing our own behaviour, then we can bring Australian consumers - and their expectations of quality care - along with us to preserve the miracle of antibiotics."
Take the pledge and join the fight against antibiotic resistance at www.nps.org.au/hppledge
Find out more at www.nps.org.au/antibiotics