Clear messages on antibiotics important for patients, says RCGP

Publication date: 26 July 2017

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the RCGP, has responded to a study published in the BMJ today about patients not completing course of antibiotics.

She said: "Resistance to antibiotics is one of the biggest health challenges we face globally. It’s important that we take new evidence around how to curb this on board – but we cannot advocate widespread behaviour change on the results of just one study. 

"Recommended courses of antibiotics are not random. They are tailored to individual conditions and in many cases, courses are quite short - for urinary tract infections, for example, three days is often enough to cure the infection.

"We are concerned about the concept of patients stopping taking their medication mid-way through a course once they 'feel better', because improvement in symptoms does not necessarily mean the infection has been completely eradicated.

"It's important that patients have clear messages and the mantra to always take the full course of antibiotics is well known – changing this will simply confuse people. 

"We agree with the researchers that more high quality, clinical trials are needed – and when guidelines are updated, they should take all new evidence into account. But we're not at that stage yet.

"GPs and our teams are playing a huge part in curbing the trend for overuse of antibiotics, and will prescribe in accordance with clinical guidelines, and act in the best interests of the patient in front of us - we would urge our patients not to change their behaviour based on one study."

Further Information

RCGP Press office: 020 3188 7574/7575/7633
Out of hours: 0203 188 7659
press@rcgp.org.uk

Notes to editor

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 52,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.

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