Guideline recommendations and antimicrobial resistance: the need for a change
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OBJECTIVES: Antimicrobial resistance has become a global burden for which inappropriate antimicrobial use is an important contributing factor. Any decisions on the selection of antibiotics use should consider their effects on antimicrobial resistance. The objective of this study was to assess the extent to which antibiotic prescribing guidelines have considered resistance patterns when making recommendations for five highly prevalent infectious syndromes. DESIGN: We used Medline searches complemented with extensive use of Web engine to identify guidelines on empirical treatment of community-acquired pneumonia, urinary tract infections, acute otitis media, rhinosinusitis and pharyngitis. We collected data on microbiology and resistance patterns and identified discrete pattern categories. We assessed the extent to which recommendations considered resistance, in addition to efficacy and safety, when recommending antibiotics. RESULTS: We identified 135 guidelines, which reported a total of 251 recommendations. Most (103/135, 79%) were from developed countries. Community-acquired pneumonia was the syndrome mostly represented (51, 39%). In only 16 (6.4%) recommendations, selection of empirical antibiotic was discussed in relation to resistance and specific microbiological data. In a further 69 (27.5%) recommendations, references were made in relation to resistance, but the attempt was inconsistent. Across syndromes, 12 patterns of resistance with implications on recommendations were observed. 50% to 75% of recommendations did not attempt to set recommendation in the context of these patterns. CONCLUSION: There is consistent evidence that guidelines on empirical antibiotic use did not routinely consider resistance in their recommendations. Decision-makers should analyse and report the extent of local resistance patterns to allow better decision-making.
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