What are the similarities and differences in antimicrobial prescribing between Australian public and private hospitals?

M.O. Cotta, C. Chen, M. Tacey, R.S. James, K.L. Buising, C. Marshall, K.A. Thursky

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Background: Identifying themes associated with inappropriate prescribing in Australian public and private hospitals will help target future antimicrobial stewardship initiatives. Aims: To describe current antimicrobial prescribing practices, identify similarities and differences between hospital sectors and provide target areas for improvement specific to each hospital sector. Methods: All hospitals included in the study were part of the 2014 national antimicrobial prescribing survey and conducted one of the following: a whole hospital point prevalence survey, serial point prevalence surveys or a sample of randomly selected patients. Data on the types of antibiotics used, their indications for use and the quality of prescription based on compliance with national and local prescribing guidelines were collected. Results: Two hundred and two hospitals (166 public and 36 private) comprising 10 882 patients and 15 967 antimicrobial prescriptions were included. Public hospitals had higher proportions of prescriptions for treatment (81.5% vs 48.4%) and medical prophylaxis (8.8% and 4.6%), whilst private hospitals had significantly higher surgical prophylaxis use (9.6% vs 46.9%) (P < 0.001). In public hospitals, the main reasons for non-compliance of treatment prescriptions were spectrum being too broad (30.5%) while in private it was incorrect dosing. Prolonged duration was the main reason for non-compliance among surgical prophylaxis prescriptions in both types of hospitals. Conclusions: Australian hospitals need to target specific areas to improve antimicrobial use. Specifically, unnecessary broad-spectrum therapy should be a priority area in public hospitals, whilst emphasis on curtailing antimicrobial overuse in surgical prophylaxis needs to be urgently addressed across in the private hospital sector.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1182-1188
Number of pages7
JournalInternal Medicine Journal
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • antimicrobial stewardship
  • guidelines
  • hospitals
  • prescribing

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