Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Antibiotic prescribing: the need for a policy in general practice.

British Medical Journal 1990; 300 doi: (Published 17 February 1990) Cite this as: British Medical Journal 1990;300:441
  1. T D Wyatt,
  2. C M Passmore,
  3. N C Morrow,
  4. P M Reilly
  1. Mater Infirmorum Hospital, Belfast.


    OBJECTIVE--To see whether changes in prescribing of oral antibacterials in Northern Ireland show the need for a community antibiotics policy. DESIGN--Analysis of prescribing totals for several oral antibiotics obtained retrospectively from the prescription pricing bureau for the years 1983-7. SETTING--Audit of anti-infective prescribing in general practice in Northern Ireland over five years. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE--Respective usage of agents defined as "common" and "occasional" in 1983. RESULTS--There was a gradual decrease in the relative use of common agents from 82% of the total in 1983 to 77% in 1987 together with a complementary increase in the use of occasional agents from 5% to 10%. Pronounced changes were noted in the use of amoxycillin, ampicillin, erythromycin, minocycline, doxycycline, and amoxycillin-clavulanic acid. CONCLUSION--Though this survey found reasonably conservative prescribing, the trend towards increased use of occasional agents has both clinical and cost implications which could be addressed by the use of a prescribing formulary.