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Antimicrobial use falls, but no room for complacency due to AMR

Today the Commission has released AURA 2023Fifth Australian report on antimicrobial use and resistance in human health, showing trends and analyses in hospitals, aged care and primary care settings.

The report reveals high levels of antimicrobial prescribing and use, which are causing risk of harm to individuals and the broader community, despite a decline during the pandemic.

Key findings

Community antimicrobial use has declined 18% overall in the three years since 2019; with a significant 25% fall from 2019 to 2021, followed by a 10% upswing in 2022.

Hospital useof antimicrobials remains high – it is estimated to be higher than similar European countries and Canada – with continued inappropriate use for surgical prophylaxis, and lower compliance with prescribing guidelines in private hospitals. 

Rates of critical antimicrobial resistances (CARs) in hospitals are rising, particularly carbapenemase-producing Enterobacterales (CPE).

Aged care homes have seen sustained high rates of inappropriate antimicrobial use, with 35% prescribed ‘just in case’ and 42% prescribed for greater than six months. 

While rates of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) for many organisms have not changed substantially since 2019, there have been some concerning changes in patterns of resistance and sources of infection.

AURA 2023 highlights the importance of continuing surveillance of AMR and infections, along with antimicrobial stewardship and infection prevention and control.

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