In the study, researchers
from Cardiff University studied prescriptions from UK primary care for four infections
over a period of 22 years, that is, between 1991 and 2012, to analyze for antibiotic resistance.
The infections were upper and lower respiratory infections, skin and soft
tissue infections and acute otitis media, for which antibiotics are frequently
Most of the antibiotics
prescribed in the study were for lower respiratory tract infections. The most commonly
during this period were amoxicillin,
penicillin-V and flucloxacillin.
Antibiotic treatment failure
was considered present if any of the following was observed within 30 days of
the use of the first antibiotic - prescription of a different drug,
hospitalization or death due to an infection, or referral to an infection
specialist service. In addition, patients who visited an emergency department
within three days of starting the antibiotic were also included as treatment
The researchers found that
there was an increase in the rate of antibiotic treatment failure over this
period of 22 years of 12%. When considered individually, lower respiratory
tract infections showed an increase in failure of 35%. Among the antibiotics, trimethoprim showed an
increase in failure rate of 40% when used for upper respiratory tract
infections. The increase in treatment failure rates was less for the first-line
antibiotics like antibiotics and macrolides. The antibiotic failure rate was
highest in the last twelve years of the study, when the use of antibiotics
Thus, antibiotic resistance
is not only a concern for hospitals; primary health doctors should also be
aware of the current situation and take adequate precautions to prevent this
problem from growing.
Steps you can take to
prevent antibiotic resistance:
Take an antibiotic only that is prescribed by a doctor for the particular
Take the full course of the antibiotic; do not stop it even if you feel better.
In some cases, for example, in tuberculosis, your doctor will prescribe more
than one antibiotics for you to take simultaneously. Make sure you take all of
1. Curie CJ et al.
Antibiotic treatment failure in four common infections in UK primary care
1991-2012: longitudinal analysis. BMJ 2014;349:g5493 doi: 10.1136/bmj.g5493