Expert advice

Medicines management: Reducing antibiotic prescribing for upper respiratory tract infections

Overuse of antibiotics can lead to antibiotic resistance. This is becoming a major problem worldwide, and we urgently need to change the way we prescribe and use antibiotics, says medicines management expert Matt Griffiths.
medecine

Overuse of antibiotics can lead to antibiotic resistance. This is becoming a major problem worldwide, and we urgently need to change the way we prescribe and use antibiotics, says medicines management expert Matt Griffiths

Most upper respiratory tract infections are viral. As antibiotics are only effective if the infection is caused by bacteria, they are not recommended in most cases.

However, prescribing for respiratory tract infections in primary care is not an exact science, and deciding whether an infection is viral or bacterial is often down to individual clinicians.

National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) Clinical Knowledge Summaries, such as Prodigy, can be used to aid diagnosis. Is the throat red? Is pus visible? Are lymph nodes raised? Does the patient have

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