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Prescription guidance in bid to halt growing antibiotics resistance

Nurses will be given specific guidance on prescribing antibiotics by NICE to stop 'inappropriate' prescriptions

Nurses will be given specific guidance on prescribing antibiotics in a bid by NICE to bring down the number of ‘inappropriate’ prescriptions.

Produced by NICE for the first time, the series of 30 guidelines will help frontline healthcare workers in the battle against antimicrobial resistance (AMR) by preventing unnecessary use of the drugs. It will address when and how staff can make prescriptions for conditions like sore throats and colds.

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Draft guidance on sinusitis (commonly known as a ‘stuffy nose’) and acute sore throats has been published with final recommendations for sinusitis due in August 2017. Guidance is also planned for urinary tract and ear infections.

Fiona Glen, programme director at NICE, said: ‘Most people with a blocked nose will get better without treatment, but some of us will visit our GP and request antibiotics, and sometimes the GP will give them to us.

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‘This new suite of NICE guidance will give healthcare professionals quick and easy access to evidence-based advice on whether to prescribe antibiotics. We hope it will reduce inappropriate prescribing, and therefore help to protect our antimicrobials against ever-increasing threats of resistance.’

The new NICE guidelines will offer advice about whether the patient should receive antibiotics immediately, be given a delayed prescription or educated in how to self-manage their symptoms. They will also suggest how long the course of treatment should last.

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AMR occurs when diseases caused by bacteria and viruses become resistant to the medicines used to treat them. It is thought that by 2050 up to 10 million people could die each year due to AMR rendering medicines useless.

Analysis published in the British Medical Journal last week suggested that patients did not need to finish their course of antibiotics and could safely stop when they felt better. Chief medical officer for England Sally Davies responded by saying the established advice remains for patients to ‘always follow the instructions of their healthcare professional’.