Control of antibiotic prescribing in UK NHS hospitals
This thesis is an evaluation of practices to control antibiotic prescribing in UK NHS hospitals. Within the past ten years there has been increasing international concern about escalating antibiotic resistance, and the UK has issued several policy documents for pmdent antibiotic prescribing. Chief Pharmacists in 253 UK NHS hospitals were surveyed about the availability and nature of documents to control antibiotic prescribing (formularies, policies and guidelines), and the role of pharmacists and medical microbiologists in monitoring prescribers' compliance with the recommendations of such documents. Although 235 hospitals had at least one document, only 60% had both an antibiotic formulary and guidelines, and only about one-half planned an annual revision of document(s). Pharmacists were reported as mostly checking antibiotic prescribing on every ward whilst medical microbiologists mostly visited selected units only. Response to a similar questionnaire was obtained from the Chief Medical Microbiologists in 131 UK NHS hospitals. Comparisons of the questionnaires indicated areas of apparent disagreement about the roles of pharmacists and medical microbiologists. Eighty three paired-responses received from pharmacists and medical microbiologists in the same hospital revealed poor agreement and awareness about controls. A total of 205 institutional prescribing guidelines were analysed for recommendations for the empirical antibiotic prescribing of Community-Acquired Pneumonia (CAP). Variation was observed in recommendations and agreement with national guidance from the British Thoracic Society (BTS). A questionnaire was subsequently sent to 235 Chief Pharmacists to investigate their awareness of this new guidance from the BTS, and subsequent revision of institutional guidelines. Documents had been revised in only about one-half of hospitals where pharmacists were aware of the new guidance. An audit of empirical antibiotic prescribing practices for CAP was performed at one hospital. Although problems were experienced with retrieval of medical records, diagnostic criteria were poorly recorded, and only 57% of prescribing for non-severe CAP was compliant with institutional guidelines. A survey of clinicians at the same hospital identified that almost one-half used the institutional guidelines and most found them useful. However, areas for improvement concernmg awareness of the guidelines and ease of access were identified. It is important that hospitals are equipped to react to changes in the hospital environment including frequent movement of junior doctors between institutions, the employment of specialist "infectious diseases pharmacists" and the increasing benefits offered by information technology. Recommendations for policy have been suggested.