Antimicrobial prescribing in residential homes

J Antimicrob Chemother. 2012 Jul;67(7):1781-90. doi: 10.1093/jac/dks085. Epub 2012 Mar 21.


Objectives: Research in residential homes has been limited to date and the extent of systemic and topical antimicrobial prescribing is largely unknown. The aim of this study was to investigate antimicrobial prescribing in residential homes in Northern Ireland (NI).

Methods: Point prevalence studies (PPSs) were completed in November 2010 (PPS1) and April 2011 (PPS2) in 30 residential homes. Data were obtained from care plans, medication administration records and staff in relation to antimicrobial prescribing and facility and resident characteristics, and analysed descriptively.

Results: The point prevalence of systemic antimicrobial prescribing was 9.4% in PPS1 and 9.2% in PPS2 (range 0.0%-33.3% during both PPSs). Trimethoprim was the most commonly prescribed systemic antimicrobial and the main indication was the prevention of urinary tract infections. Almost 25% of systemic antimicrobials were prescribed at inappropriate doses. The point prevalence of topical antimicrobial prescribing was 6.4% (range 0.0%-22.2%) in PPS1 and 5.9% (range 0.0%-21.1%) in PPS2. The most commonly prescribed topical antimicrobials were chloramphenicol eye preparations in PPS1 and fusidic acid skin preparations in PPS2; treatment with these topical antimicrobials was generally prolonged. More than 25% of all systemic and 55% of all topical antimicrobials were initiated following telephone consultations as opposed to face-to-face consultations.

Conclusions: The prevalence of systemic antimicrobial prescribing in residential homes in NI is relatively high compared with care homes (particularly nursing homes) in other countries. Systemic and topical antimicrobial prescribing is not always appropriate in terms of the doses prescribed and the duration of use. It is apparent that current strategies employed in NI are insufficient to ensure prudent antimicrobial prescribing within this environment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Topical
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anti-Infective Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Drug Prescriptions / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Northern Ireland
  • Residential Facilities*


  • Anti-Infective Agents