Antimicrobial stewardship in primary care


The primary care sector has an important role to play in improving the safe and appropriate use of antimicrobials, and reducing patient harm and the risk of antimicrobial resistance in Australia.

Why is primary care a focus area for improved prescribing?

AURA 2021, the fourth Australian report on antimicrobial use and resistance in human health reported that the use of antimicrobials is decreasing in the community (including general practice, specialist outpatient clinics, dental clinics and aged care homes). 

While this is a positive trend, antimicrobials continue to be overprescribed in the community, compared with national guideline recommendations. 81.5% of patients with acute bronchitis and 80.1% of patients with acute sinusitis attending MedicineInsight participating practices continue to be prescribed antimicrobials for conditions for which there is no evidence of benefit.

Since 2006, there have been increases in the community for some important resistances in Australia, such as methicillin resistance in Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). When people go into hospital with a resistant infection they caught in the community, it makes their care more complex, which is why reducing resistance in the community is also important. 

In addition AURA 2021 reported on continuing high levels of inappropriate prescribing of antimicrobials in aged care homes, and concerning rates of some antimicrobial-resistant organisms in aged care home residents.

A number of resources are provided on this page to support improved prescribing in the community.