New tools to fight bacteria

Better guidelines for doctors, detailed patient journals, and national monitoring systems are some of the tools needed to combat the increasing problem of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. That is stated in a report commissioned by the Swedish government.
Misuse of antibiotics causes risks, not only for individual patients, but for larger groups in society. If more bacterial strains become resistant, diseases that can be cured easily

today might not be treatable in the future. To stop the increasing problem of antibiotic resistance, The Swedish Strategic Programme Against Antibiotics Resistance, Strama, The Swedish Institute for Infectious Disease Control, SMI, The National Board of Health and Welfare and The Swedish

Association of Local Authorities and Regions have

undertaken an investigation on how antibiotics are prescribed and used in Sweden. The report, written by a commission from the Swedish government, was presented on the European Antibiotic Awareness Day, November 18th.

Among the most important conclusions is that there is a need for computer registries wtih infor-mation about how antibiotics

are being used.

”We need more detailed files to monitor patient compliance. Today we do not know which diagnosis is treated with antibiotics or for how long,” says Otto Cars, Chairman

of Strama.

According to the study it is also important that doctors teach patients that it is good to refrain from using antibiotics. The investigators also point to the need for a strategy for communication and information to the public to make people understand the importance of not taking unneccessary antibiotics.

“Bacteria have been a forgotten problem since the broad introduction of antibiotics in the 1950s and 1960s. Now we have to reawaken the question about bacteria and the importance of hygiene now,” says Otto Cars.

The report also shows that newly developed resistance is often discovered too late and that it is not documented anywhere. The report suggests that a new national system should be used to monitor the development. Every day, data should be collected from local and regional laboratories, and gathered in a national database.

Another problem that the report highlights is the lack of competence development for physicians regarding the use of antibiotics. There is also a lack of guiding principles for the doctors that can support them in their decision for treatment. For example, guidelines for which samples should be taken and which antibiotic should be used to treat which infection are often missing.

“Only 50 percent of the health care institutions investigated offer education for the doctors. This is a responsibility that the hospitals must take more serious,” says Lars-Erik Holm, Directorgeneral at The National board of health and welfare.
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