A better message would be that antibiotics are a precious resource that should not be used for longer than is necessary.
- Professor Lucy Yardley, University of Oxford
Oxford University researchers are among a group of infectious disease experts to argue that the advice that patients should complete a course of antibiotics is not supported by evidence and should be dropped.
In an analysis published in the BMJ, the authors, who include Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences health psychologists Dr Sarah Tonkin-Crine and Professor Lucy Yardley, say that patients are being put at unnecessary risk from antibiotic resistance when treatment is given for longer than necessary, not when it is stopped early.
They say it is time for policymakers, educators and doctors to drop the ‘complete the course’ message and state that it is not based on evidence.
The analysis, which was led by Professor Martin Llewellyn of Brighton and Sussex Medical School, was done for the Antibiotic Review Kit (ARK)-Hospital PGfAR programme, and for the NIHR’s Health Protection Research Unit at Oxford University.
Professor Lucy Yardley, who is also leading the development of the ARK intervention to reduce duration of antibiotic use in hospitals,, said:
“For common bacterial infections no evidence exists that stopping antibiotic treatment early increases a patient’s risk of resistant infection, yet the complete the course message is still widely believed. A better message would be that antibiotics are a precious resource that should not be used for longer than is necessary.”
The research team are calling for more research determine the most effective strategies for optimising the duration of antibiotic treatment.
Read the full article here:
The antibiotic course has had its day
Llewelyn MJ, Fitzpatrick JM, Darwin E, Tonkin-Crine S, Gorton C, Paul J, Peto TEA, Yardley L, Hopkns S, Walker AS. BMJ 2017. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.j3418