Use of electronic medical records to describe general practitioner antibiotic prescribing patterns

Aust J Gen Pract. 2018 Nov;47(11):796-800. doi: 10.31128/AJGP-05-18-4570.


Background and objectives: The computerised medical records of general practice patients can inform our understanding of antibiotic prescribing and assist in antimicrobial stewardship (AMS). The aim of this study was to describe Australian general practitioner (GP) antibiotic prescribing patterns using data extracted from electronic medical records (EMR).

Method: A descriptive analysis of patient records from 44 general practices, between 2010 and 2014, in the eastern region of metropolitan Melbourne was undertaken.

Results: Of the 615,362 antibiotic prescriptions, cefalexin, amoxicillin–clavulanic acid, roxithromycin, doxycycline and clarithromycin were the most frequently prescribed antibiotics. Except for cefalexin, prescribing rates of the antibiotics increased in winter. Of 472,197 patients consulting a GP in one of these practices, 34.8% received an antibiotic at some point over the five years. There was a higher rate of prescribing per consultation in patients aged <20 years.

Discussion: This study shows that it is possible to examine EMR for antibiotic prescriptions, and that a descriptive analysis can identify AMS targets.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Antimicrobial Stewardship / standards*
  • Antimicrobial Stewardship / statistics & numerical data
  • Electronic Health Records / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / standards*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / statistics & numerical data
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Victoria


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents