Monday, September 8th, 2014

Antibiotic misuse continues unabated in Australia and is contributing to an emerging global antibiotic crisis: Doctors are making short-term decisions rather than protecting long-term community interests

Australian sociologist Alex Broom and expert panel to discuss antibiotic crisis and the resistance at the State Library of NSW

Between 20-50% of antibiotic use in Australian hospitals is inappropriate and this is contributing to resistance and the proliferation of multi-resistant bacteria also known as ‘superbugs’. Experts predict an antimicrobial ‘perfect storm’ in the next few decades, as a consequence of resistance, diminishing antibiotic development, and ongoing mis-use of antibiotics.  Without significant changes to our practice and policies globally, we are heading towards the prospect of a post-antibiotic era.  The threat this presents and what may be done to avoid this will be debated in the State Library of NSW on the 17th of September with a Public Lecture by sociologist Associate Professor Alex Broom followed by a panel discussion with leading health experts.

A/Professor Broom said that “The discovery of new antibiotic treatment options has come to an almost complete standstill in the last few decades with only five new chemical classes discovered since the 1970s.  We are heading toward a situation where previously treatable infections will once again kill. A key option we have is to preserve existing antibiotics for future generations. This means reserving antibiotics for when they are really needed.”

Outlining a new research program supported by the Australian Research Council, Queensland Health and the Australasian Society of Infectious Diseases, A/Professor Broom will discuss the role of doctors, pharmacists and hospital managers in antibiotic mis-use in the Australian context, and how we may better understand this major health problem.

“Hospital-based attempts to reduce inappropriate prescribing may prompt initial shifts in behaviour, but research shows doctors quickly return to inappropriate antibiotic use.”

“Our new research program has shown that doctors struggle to use antibiotics judiciously because they do not feel comfortable taking short-term risks to achieve long-term gains. Pressure to prescribe antibiotics, even in hospitals, is immense and much like climate change, as a community we tend not to be supportive of our medical experts introducing some short-term pain, for immense long-term gains.”  

He states: “It’s time we all recognised that antibiotics are a diminishing resource and that we are facing the prospect of a society without them.”

A/Professor Broom’s lecture will be followed by a discussion panel with leading experts in infection management and health services research, including Professor Nick Graves (Director of the NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence in Reducing Healthcare Associated Infections), Dr Tom Gottlieb (Executive of the Australian Group on Antimicrobial Resistance), Associate Professor Karin Thursky (practicing Infectious Diseases physician and clinical director of the model Antimicrobial Stewardship Program ‘Guidance’) and Dr Jennifer Broom (Senior Staff Specialist in Infectious Diseases).

Please RSVP here: or email Sally Daly [email protected]

For further information or an interview contact Associate Professor Alex Broom on 0413 060 436 or [email protected]


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The Australian Sociological Assocation

TASA - Understanding our world, making a difference: The Australian Sociological Association (TASA) is the peak professional association for Australian sociologists. Formed in 1963, TASA celebrated its 50th anniversary last year. TASA holds an annual conference, produces two refereed journals, facilitates networks across specialist fields, and awards prizes for outstanding contributions to Australian sociology.

Sally Daly
P: 03 9 214 5283
M: 0425 728 392


antibotic resistance sociologist Australia global crisis public lecture




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