Australia’s most comprehensive report on antibiotic resistance released

Media release

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (the Commission) has released a landmark report outlining the most comprehensive picture of antimicrobial resistance, antimicrobial use and appropriateness of prescribing in Australia to date.

Antimicrobial Use and Resistance in Australia (AURA) 2016: First Australian report on antimicrobial use and resistance in human health highlights antimicrobial use and resistance as a critical and immediate challenge to health systems in Australia and around the world.

AURA 2016 contains valuable data on antimicrobial use in the community, hospitals and residential aged care facilities; key emerging issues for antimicrobial resistance; and a comparison of Australia’s situation with other countries.

Commission Senior Medical Advisor Professor John Turnidge said that AURA 2016 sets a baseline that will allow trends to be monitored over time and highlights areas where future work will inform action to prevent the spread of antimicrobial resistance.

“Antimicrobial resistance is one of the most significant challenges for the delivery of safe, high-quality health services, and has a direct impact on patient care and patient outcomes.”

“Antibiotic resistance has developed because of the overuse and misuse of antibiotics, and now, bacterial infections that were once easily cured with antibiotics are becoming harder to treat. In 2014, nearly half the people in Australia were prescribed antimicrobials – so the threat of antimicrobial resistance has the potential to affect every individual.”

Professor Chris Baggoley, Australian Government Chief Medical Officer said: “Comprehensive, coordinated and effective surveillance of antimicrobial resistance and antimicrobial use is a national priority and a critical component of the Australian Government’s National Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy.”

“The AURA project is extremely important in our fight to halt the progress of antimicrobial resistance, to ensure that we protect the safe and effective antibiotics that we rely on today.”

“This report represents a milestone; it explores patterns in prescribing and use of antibiotics, to understand where and when specific threats emerge – the kind of information we need to guide efforts to mitigate the risk of antimicrobial resistance at a local, jurisdictional and national level.”

Professor Turnidge said: “Tools such as the Commission’s AURA Surveillance System help us to identify critical antimicrobial resistances early and make sure we take swift and effective action to prevent increasing resistance in Australia.”

Media enquiries

Sharene Chatfield, Communications Manager, Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care, (02) 9126 3611 or 0429 211 376. E: sharene.chatfield@safetyandquality.gov.au

Aimee Cornelius, Communications Advisor, Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care, (02) 9126 3617 or aimee.cornelius@safetyandquality.gov.au

Key findings from AURA 2016:

  • In 2014 10.7 million Australians were prescribed antimicrobials – 46% of the population.
  • In 2014, Australia had one of the highest rates of vancomycin resistance in Enterococcus faecium in the world. Resistance to ampicillin was even higher in this species.
  • Antimicrobial resistances are having a major impact on seriously ill patients in hospitals and require major efforts in hospitals to control their spread.
  • On any given day in an Australian hospital in 2014, 38.4% of patients were being administered an antimicrobial. Of these, 24.3% were noncompliant with guidelines, and 23% were considered inappropriate.
  • Antibiotics used in surgery are often not required and are given for too long. In 2014, 40.2% of surgical prophylaxis was inappropriate, mainly because of incorrect duration (39.7%); incorrect dose or frequency (15.7%); or lack of documenting the reason (22.9%).
  • Data on antimicrobial prescriptions show strong seasonal variance, with some antimicrobials being prescribed more in winter. Colds and flu are viral infections, and antibiotics do not help treat viruses.

Notes to Editors:

About the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care
The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (the Commission) is an Australian Government agency that leads and coordinates national improvements in the safety and quality of health care based on the best available evidence. By working in partnership with patients, consumers, clinicians, managers, policy makers and health care organisations, our aim is to achieve a sustainable, safe and high-quality health system. The Commission has an ongoing program of significant national activities with outcomes that are demonstrating direct patient benefit as well as creating essential underpinnings for ongoing improvement. The Commission aims to use its role as the national body for safety and quality in health care in Australia to ensure that the health system is better informed, supported and organised to deliver safe and high quality care.

About AURA

The Commission’s Antimicrobial Use and Resistance in Australia (AURA) Surveillance System has been funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and supports the National Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy 2015-19.

To develop AURA, the Commission worked collaboratively with established programs and key stakeholders across settings to improve the coverage, capture and quality of existing surveillance programs and data collections, and to identify gaps. These partner programs include: the National Antimicrobial Utilisation Surveillance Program (NAUSP), the National Antimicrobial Prescribing Survey (NAPS), the Australian Group on Antimicrobial Resistance (AGAR); and, Queensland Health OrgTRx. Additional data sources include, but are not limited to, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), the Repatriation PBS and NPS MedicineWise.

AURA 2016 integrates data from AURA’s partner programs and organisations, and includes participation from all states and territories, and the private sector.