Objectives: The aim of this study was to investigate antimicrobial prescribing in nursing homes in countries across Europe.
Methods: Point prevalence studies were completed in April and November 2009 in 85 nursing homes in 15 European countries and two UK administrations.
Results: A total of 10,388 and 9430 residents participated in April and November 2009, respectively. The mean prevalence of antimicrobial prescribing in the nursing homes was 6.5% in April and 5.0% in November. The most commonly prescribed antimicrobials were methenamine (17.5%), trimethoprim (11.4%) and co-amoxiclav (11.1%) in April and co-amoxiclav (12.2%), nitrofurantoin (12.2%) and methenamine (11.5%) in November. There was large variation in the overall mean antimicrobial prescribing in the selected nursing homes from each of the contributing countries, ranging from 1.4% in Germany and Latvia to 19.4% in Northern Ireland in April and 1.2% in Latvia to 13.4% in Finland in November. Furthermore, differences in prescribing were apparent within countries with the largest variation evident in nursing homes in Northern Ireland (21.5%) in April and Finland in November (30.1%).
Conclusions: This is the first study to investigate antimicrobial prescribing in nursing homes in a large number of European countries. The findings suggest that there is considerable variation in antimicrobial prescribing in nursing homes across and within European countries. Nursing homes provide a significant service to the European community and must be supported in order to optimize antimicrobial use and limit the development of antimicrobial resistance.