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The objective of this research was to assess current patterns of hospital antibiotic prescribing in Northern Ireland and to determine targets for improving the quality of antibiotic prescribing. A point prevalence survey was conducted in four acute teaching hospitals. The most commonly used antibiotics were combinations of penicillins including β-lactamase inhibitors (33·6%), metronidazole (9·1%), and macrolides (8·1%). The indication for treatment was recorded in 84·3% of the prescribing episodes. A small fraction (3·9%) of the surgical prophylactic antibiotic prescriptions was for >24 h. The results showed that overall 52·4% of the prescribed antibiotics were in compliance with the hospital antibiotic guidelines. The findings identified the following indicators as targets for quality improvement: indication recorded in patient notes, the duration of surgical prophylaxis and compliance with hospital antibiotic guidelines. The results strongly suggest that antibiotic use could be improved by taking steps to address the identified targets for quality improvement.
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