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Australians are more aware of antibiotic resistance being a serious threat to their health, according to one study. This is despite other research showing that around one-third of prescriptions for antimicrobials in Australian hospitals are still not compliant with treatment guidelines.

According to research from NPS MedicineWise National Consumer Survey 2017, Australians’ knowledge of the problem of antibiotic resistance was improving. The research showed more Australians reported awareness of the term ‘antibiotic resistance’ in 2017 (74%) compared to 70% in 2014.
“According to our survey of 2,500 consumers, the belief that antibiotic resistance is affecting us now has more than doubled in recent years, from 11% in 2015 to 25% in 2017, indicating our campaigns have had an impact and people are more aware of the problem,” said NPS MedicineWise CEO Steve Morris.

Yet while the study also indicated a reduction in antibiotic prescribing (14%), it also suggested the use of antibiotics in Australia remained high.

“We know that almost one in every two Australians (45%) takes an antibiotic each year, and our nation’s consumption levels are higher than those of comparable countries such as the UK and the Netherlands,” said Mr Morris.

Other findings released by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (the Commission), showed that in 2017, around one-third of prescriptions for antimicrobials in participating Australian hospitals were assessed as not compliant with treatment guidelines. The report, Antimicrobial prescribing practice in Australian hospitals: Results of the 2017 Hospital National Antimicrobial Prescribing Survey indicated that one in four antimicrobial prescriptions were assessed as inappropriate.

The Hospital National Antimicrobial Prescribing Survey (Hospital NAPS) is an annual survey of antimicrobial prescribing in Australian hospitals conducted by the National Centre for Antimicrobial Stewardship (NCAS), as part of the Antimicrobial Use and Resistance in Australia (AURA) Surveillance System. The NAPS was developed to provide a detailed assessment of antimicrobial prescribing practices and to support national comparisons.

“Overuse and inappropriate use of antimicrobials is a key factor contributing to bacteria and other pathogens becoming unresponsive to last-line drugs, said Dr Kathryn Daveson, Clinical Director of the AURA Program at the Commission.

“These results are hugely concerning as ongoing inappropriate use of antibiotics assists bacteria to evolve increased resistance to existing antibiotics. This misuse places a heavy burden across the population, with a disproportionate impact on vulnerable communities, such as aged-care residents and people in rural and remote areas.

“Clinicians are already seeing the impact of antimicrobial resistance, with increasing challenges in treating people for common illnesses. Ultimately, we may lose the effectiveness of antibiotics.

As part of this year’s World Antibiotic Awareness Week this week, NPS MedicineWise is promoting online resources and evidence-based information for people to learn more about antibiotic resistance. To find out more, go to

For more information or to download the 2017 Hospital National Antimicrobial Prescribing Survey refer to the Commissions website at:

For more information on Antibiotic Awareness Week 2018, refer to the Commission’s website at: