How to curb bad prescribing practices

An updated Cochrane review has identified effective and safe ways to reduce unnecessary use of antibiotics in hospitals.

The researchers found that interventions using both ‘restrictive’ techniques (rules to make doctors prescribe properly), and ‘enabling’ techniques (providing advice or feedback) substantially improved the number of appropriate prescribing decisions.

Following either type of intervention resulted in 58% of hospital in-patients receiving the right treatment compared with 43% of the patients in the standard practice groups.

The interventions shortened the duration of antibiotic use from 11 days to nine per patient, and probably reduced hospital stays as well, say the researchers.

They note that risk of death was 11% in both treatment groups, suggesting that reducing antibiotic use did not lead to an increase in harm.