Rationing of medicines may be able to put a halt to the spread of MRSA in hospitals, according to experts.
The new guidance, issued to health boards by the Scottish Antimicrobial Prescribing Group (SAPG) as part of the Scottish Government's drive against hospital-acquired infections, urges to cut and delay doses of commonly prescribed antibiotics because of their role in the rise of hospital-acquired infections.
The plan is an effort to cut the use of antibiotics in hospitals by up to 25 percent each year, scrapping up to 83,000 routine prescriptions for conditions such as chest and gut infections, reports Scotsman.
According to experts, the move will help the fight against the superbugs Clostridium difficile (C diff) and MRSA because although antibiotics kill some bugs, they cause others to spread.
The present phenomenon of administering general antibiotics to many emergency admissions 'just in case' they respond to treatment will end.
Under new plans, tests will be conducted to establish which, if any, antibiotics would be the most effective, delaying treatment by 24 hours.
Certain widely used antibiotics, cephalosporins and quinolones, believed to be particularly associated with the spread of C diff and MRSA, will be strictly rationed.
Antibiotics are implicated in the spread of superbugs because of they way in which bacteria respond to them.
In the case of C diff, they kill 'good' bacteria in the gut that prevent C diff from growing and spreading.
In the case of MRSA, the bacteria have grown resistant to certain types of antibiotic.
Professor Dilip Nathwani, chairman of the SAPG, said antibiotics 'are being given for too long and the wrong ones are being given'.
"Doctors and nurses need to think about whether patients need antibiotics and what the risks of antibiotics are," he added.
Also, doctors would be asked to keep duration of antibiotic courses to a minimum.
"In most situations it can be three, five or seven days," Nathwani said.
Doctors and campaigners welcomed the plan, but critics warned individual patient care must not be compromised.