27 July 2017

New NICE advice about when to give antibiotics for common infections

For the first time NICE is giving specific advice for doctors and nurses about when and how to prescribe antibiotics for conditions such as sore throats and colds.

New NICE advice about when to give antibiotics for common infections

The new series of 30 guidelines will help frontline healthcare workers in the battle against antimicrobial resistance (AMR) by preventing unnecessary use of the drugs.

Draft guidance on sinusitis (commonly known as a ‘stuffy nose’) and acute sore throats has been published with final recommendations for sinusitis due later in 2017.

Guidance is also planned for urinary tract and ear infections.

It was recently suggested that patients did not need to finish their course of antibiotics and could safely stop when they felt better.

However, Professor Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer for England has said: “The advice to the public remains the same—people should always follow the instructions of their healthcare professional.

“NICE is currently developing guidelines for managing common infections, which will look at the evidence on appropriate prescribing of antibiotics. The Department of Health will continue to review all new evidence on prescribing and drug resistant infections, as we aim to continue the great progress we have made on tackling antimicrobial resistance at home and abroad.”

The new NICE guidelines will offer advice about whether the patient should receive antibiotics immediately, be given a delayed prescription or educated in how to self-manage their symptoms. They will also suggest how long the course of treatment should last.

By using our antibiotics wisely we can prolong their effectiveness.

The term 'antimicrobial resistance' is used to describe what happens when diseases caused by bacteria and viruses become resistant to the medicines we use to treat them.

It is thought that by 2050 up to 10 million people could die each year due to antibiotic resistance rendering our medicines useless.

Fiona Glen, programme director at NICE said: “Most people with a blocked nose will get better without treatment, but some of us will visit our GP and request antibiotics. And sometimes the GP will give us them.”

“This new suite of NICE guidance will give healthcare professionals quick and easy access to evidence-based advice on whether to prescribe antibiotics. We hope it will reduce inappropriate prescribing, and therefore help to protect our antimicrobials against ever-increasing threats of resistance.”

We hope it will reduce inappropriate prescribing, and therefore help to protect our antimicrobials against ever-increasing threats of resistance.

Fiona Glen, programme director at NICE