Optimising carbapenem use through a national quality improvement programme

Siân E. Robson, Alison Cockburn, Jacqueline Sneddon, Abdulrhman Mohana, Marion Bennie, Alexander B. Mullen, William Malcolm, Jennifer Armstrong, Andrea Patton, Ronald Andrew Seaton

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7 Citations (Scopus)
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Background: Concern about increasing carbapenem and piperacillin/tazobactam use led the Scottish Antimicrobial Prescribing Group (SAPG) to develop national guidance on optimal use of these agents, and to implement a quality improvement programme to assess the impact of guidance on practice. Objectives: To evaluate how SAPG guidance had been implemented by health boards, assess how this translated into clinical practice, and investigate clinicians’ views and behaviours about prescribing carbapenems and alternative agents. Methods: Local implementation of SAPG guidance was assessed using an online survey. A bespoke Point Prevalence Survey was used to evaluate prescribing. Clinicians’ experience of using carbapenems and alternatives was examined through semi-structured interviews. National prescribing data were analysed to assess the impact of the programme. Results: There were greater local restrictions for carbapenems than for piperacillin/tazobactam. Laboratory result suppression was inconsistent between boards and carbapenem sparing antibiotics were not widely available. Compliance with local guidelines was good for meropenem but lower for piperacillin/tazobactam. Indication for use was well documented but review/stop dates were poorly documented for both antibiotics. Decisions to prescribe a carbapenem were influenced by local guidelines and specialist advice. Many clinicians lacked confidence to de-escalate treatment. Use of both antibiotics decreased during the course of the programme. Conclusions: A multi-faceted quality improvement programme was used to gather intelligence, promote behaviour change and focus interventions on use of carbapenems and piperacillin/tazobactam. Use of these antimicrobials decreased during the programme; a trend not seen in Europe outwith the UK. The programme could be generalised to other antimicrobials.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2223-2230
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy
Issue number8
Early online date24 May 2018
Publication statusPublished - 31 Aug 2018


  • carbapenem
  • gram negative bacteria
  • extended spectrum beta-lactamase


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