Doctors warn about over use of antibiotics in hospitals

Doctors from both the Vitalité and Horizon health networks say a new report raises concerns about the amount of antibiotics being prescribed in the province's hospitals.

Study indicated 43% of the patients on antibiotics were on them inappropriately

Doctors from both the Vitalité and Horizon health networks say a new report raises concerns about the amount of antibiotics being prescribed in the province's hospitals.

Dr. Gabriel Girouard, an infectious disease specialist at the Georges-L-Dumont University Hospital Centre in Moncton, helped do a point prevalence study of the use of antibiotics in hospitals across the province two years ago.

He said the study found an alarming use of antibiotics.

“About a third of patients are regularly put on antibiotics still.  When we were compiling the data we were very surprised and we had a feeling about this,” he said.

The researchers conducted the survey in 21 hospitals in New Brunswick between June and August 2012. At each hospital, the researchers would examine the records of all patients that were admitted to the hospitals in a 24-hour span.

In that period, 2,244 patients were admitted to the hospitals.

The report said 691 antibiotics were prescribed, 326 antibiotics were prescribed for “community-acquired infections” and 261 were for “hospital-acquired infections.”

Girouard said 43 per cent of the patients on antibiotics were on them inappropriately and 20 per cent of them had other problems.

“Twenty per cent of the prescriptions, there was no documented reason in the medical chart. So this was very surprising for us,” he said.

Girouard said the misuse of antibiotics is creating dangerous bacteria that are immune to antibiotics.

Dr. Michael Armitage, an emergency room physician at the Dr. Everett Chalmers Hospital in Fredericton, said he wants doctors and patients to use antibiotics with caution.

“Sometimes the best prescription for someone is no prescription at all,” Armitage said.

Girouard and Armitage are part of a provincewide committee to cut down on the misuse of antibiotics.

The two doctors are promoting new guidelines for patients and doctors.

In the study, the researchers point out that a point prevalence study only captures data from a specific point in time and may not be reflective of overall prescribing trends.

The researchers say more studies are needed to evaluate any issues with how often antibiotics are prescribed in hospitals.

Some the report's recommendations included focus on improving documentation standards and using appropriate dosing levels.