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1.  Knowledge and beliefs on antimicrobial resistance among physicians and nurses in hospitals in Amhara Region, Ethiopia 
Background
Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a major global public health problem both in hospital and community acquired infections. The present study assessed the knowledge and beliefs on AMR among physicians and nurses in 13 hospitals in Amhara region, Ethiopia, which is a low-income country.
Methods
A cross-sectional study using a self-administered questionnaire was applied.
Results
A total of 385 participants (175 physicians and 210 nurses) took part in the study. Sixty five percent of physicians and 98% of nurses replied that they need training on antimicrobial stewardship. Only 48% of physicians and 22.8% of nurses had exposures for local antibiogram data. Overall, 278 (72.2%) of participants were knowledgeable about AMR. Majority of participants agreed or strongly agreed AMR as worldwide and national problem but few considered AMR as problem in their own hospitals. The two most important factors mentioned for AMR development were patients’ poor adherence to prescribed antimicrobials (86%) and overuse of antibiotics (80.5%). The most leading local factors identified for AMR development were: self-antibiotic prescription (53.5%), lack of access to local antibiogram data (12.3%) and prescriber poor awareness about AMR (9.2%). Factors perceived for excessive antibiotic prescriptions were: patient drive (56%), treatment failure (79%), unknown febrile illnesses (39.7%) and upper respiratory tract infections (33.4%).
Conclusion
Majority of physicians and nurses lack up to-date knowledge on AMR. Unavailability of local antibiogram data, self-prescription by patients and poor awareness on AMR are areas of interventions for prevention and control of AMR.
doi:10.1186/2050-6511-15-26
PMCID: PMC4032864  PMID: 24887310
Antimicrobial resistance; Knowledge; Belief; Ethiopia
2.  The challenges and successes of implementing a sustainable antimicrobial resistance surveillance programme in Nepal 
BMC Public Health  2014;14:269.
Background
Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a major global public health concern and its surveillance is a fundamental tool for monitoring the development of AMR. In 1998, the Nepalese Ministry of Health (MOH) launched an Infectious Disease (ID) programme. The key components of the programme were to establish a surveillance programme for AMR and to develop awareness among physicians regarding AMR and rational drug usage in Nepal.
Methods
An AMR surveillance programme was established and implemented by the Nepalese MOH in partnership with the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (ICDDR, B) from 1998 to 2003. From 2004 to 2012, the programme was integrated and maintained as a core activity of the National Public Health Laboratory (NPHL) and resulted in an increased number of participating laboratories and pathogens brought under surveillance. The main strategies were to build national capacity on isolation, identification and AMR testing of bacterial pathogens, establish laboratory networking and an External Quality Assessment (EQA) programme, promote standardised recording and reporting of results, and to ensure timely analysis and dissemination of data for advocacy and national policy adaptations. The programme was initiated by nine participating laboratories performing AMR surveillance on Vibrio cholerae, Shigella spp., Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae, and Neisseria gonorrhoeae.
Results
The number of participating laboratories was ultimately increased to 13 and the number of pathogens under surveillance was increased to seven (Salmonella spp. was added to the surveillance programme in 2002 and extended spectrum β-lactamase producing Escherichia coli in 2011). From 1999 to 2012, data were available on 17,103 bacterial isolates. During the AMR programme, we observed changing trends in serovars/ species for Salmonella spp., Shigella spp. and V. cholerae and changing AMR trend for all organisms. Notably, N. gonorrhoeae isolates demonstrated increasing resistance to ciprofloxacin. Additionally, the performance of the participating laboratories improved as shown by annual EQA data evaluation.
Conclusions
This Nepalese AMR programme continues and serves as a model for sustainable surveillance of AMR monitoring in resource limited settings.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-269
PMCID: PMC4234382  PMID: 24650008
Antimicrobial resistance surveillance; Nepal; Respiratory pathogens; Enteric pathogens; Sexually transmitted disease pathogens
3.  Interactions between Non-Physician Clinicians and Industry: A Systematic Review 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(11):e1001561.
In a systematic review of studies of interactions between non-physician clinicians and industry, Quinn Grundy and colleagues found that many of the issues identified for physicians' industry interactions exist for non-physician clinicians.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
With increasing restrictions placed on physician–industry interactions, industry marketing may target other health professionals. Recent health policy developments confer even greater importance on the decision making of non-physician clinicians. The purpose of this systematic review is to examine the types and implications of non-physician clinician–industry interactions in clinical practice.
Methods and Findings
We searched MEDLINE and Web of Science from January 1, 1946, through June 24, 2013, according to PRISMA guidelines. Non-physician clinicians eligible for inclusion were: Registered Nurses, nurse prescribers, Physician Assistants, pharmacists, dieticians, and physical or occupational therapists; trainee samples were excluded. Fifteen studies met inclusion criteria. Data were synthesized qualitatively into eight outcome domains: nature and frequency of industry interactions; attitudes toward industry; perceived ethical acceptability of interactions; perceived marketing influence; perceived reliability of industry information; preparation for industry interactions; reactions to industry relations policy; and management of industry interactions. Non-physician clinicians reported interacting with the pharmaceutical and infant formula industries. Clinicians across disciplines met with pharmaceutical representatives regularly and relied on them for practice information. Clinicians frequently received industry “information,” attended sponsored “education,” and acted as distributors for similar materials targeted at patients. Clinicians generally regarded this as an ethical use of industry resources, and felt they could detect “promotion” while benefiting from industry “information.” Free samples were among the most approved and common ways that clinicians interacted with industry. Included studies were observational and of varying methodological rigor; thus, these findings may not be generalizable. This review is, however, the first to our knowledge to provide a descriptive analysis of this literature.
Conclusions
Non-physician clinicians' generally positive attitudes toward industry interactions, despite their recognition of issues related to bias, suggest that industry interactions are normalized in clinical practice across non-physician disciplines. Industry relations policy should address all disciplines and be implemented consistently in order to mitigate conflicts of interest and address such interactions' potential to affect patient care.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Making and selling health care goods (including drugs and devices) and services is big business. To maximize the profits they make for their shareholders, companies involved in health care build relationships with physicians by providing information on new drugs, organizing educational meetings, providing samples of their products, giving gifts, and holding sponsored events. These relationships help to keep physicians informed about new developments in health care but also create the potential for causing harm to patients and health care systems. These relationships may, for example, result in increased prescription rates of new, heavily marketed medications, which are often more expensive than their generic counterparts (similar unbranded drugs) and that are more likely to be recalled for safety reasons than long-established drugs. They may also affect the provision of health care services. Industry is providing an increasingly large proportion of routine health care services in many countries, so relationships built up with physicians have the potential to influence the commissioning of the services that are central to the treatment and well-being of patients.
Why Was This Study Done?
As a result of concerns about the tension between industry's need to make profits and the ethics underlying professional practice, restrictions are increasingly being placed on physician–industry interactions. In the US, for example, the Physician Payments Sunshine Act now requires US manufacturers of drugs, devices, and medical supplies that participate in federal health care programs to disclose all payments and gifts made to physicians and teaching hospitals. However, other health professionals, including those with authority to prescribe drugs such as pharmacists, Physician Assistants, and nurse practitioners are not covered by this legislation or by similar legislation in other settings, even though the restructuring of health care to prioritize primary care and multidisciplinary care models means that “non-physician clinicians” are becoming more numerous and more involved in decision-making and medication management. In this systematic review (a study that uses predefined criteria to identify all the research on a given topic), the researchers examine the nature and implications of the interactions between non-physician clinicians and industry.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 15 published studies that examined interactions between non-physician clinicians (Registered Nurses, nurse prescribers, midwives, pharmacists, Physician Assistants, and dieticians) and industry (corporations that produce health care goods and services). They extracted the data from 16 publications (representing 15 different studies) and synthesized them qualitatively (combined the data and reached word-based, rather than numerical, conclusions) into eight outcome domains, including the nature and frequency of interactions, non-physician clinicians' attitudes toward industry, and the perceived ethical acceptability of interactions. In the research the authors identified, non-physician clinicians reported frequent interactions with the pharmaceutical and infant formula industries. Most non-physician clinicians met industry representatives regularly, received gifts and samples, and attended educational events or received educational materials (some of which they distributed to patients). In these studies, non-physician clinicians generally regarded these interactions positively and felt they were an ethical and appropriate use of industry resources. Only a minority of non-physician clinicians felt that marketing influenced their own practice, although a larger percentage felt that their colleagues would be influenced. A sizeable proportion of non-physician clinicians questioned the reliability of industry information, but most were confident that they could detect biased information and therefore rated this information as reliable, valuable, or useful.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These and other findings suggest that non-physician clinicians generally have positive attitudes toward industry interactions but recognize issues related to bias and conflict of interest. Because these findings are based on a small number of studies, most of which were undertaken in the US, they may not be generalizable to other countries. Moreover, they provide no quantitative assessment of the interaction between non-physician clinicians and industry and no information about whether industry interactions affect patient care outcomes. Nevertheless, these findings suggest that industry interactions are normalized (seen as standard) in clinical practice across non-physician disciplines. This normalization creates the potential for serious risks to patients and health care systems. The researchers suggest that it may be unrealistic to expect that non-physician clinicians can be taught individually how to interact with industry ethically or how to detect and avert bias, particularly given the ubiquitous nature of marketing and promotional materials. Instead, they suggest, the environment in which non-physician clinicians practice should be structured to mitigate the potentially harmful effects of interactions with industry.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001561.
This study is further discussed in a PLOS Medicine Perspective by James S. Yeh and Aaron S. Kesselheim
The American Medical Association provides guidance for physicians on interactions with pharmaceutical industry representatives, information about the Physician Payments Sunshine Act, and a toolkit for preparing Physician Payments Sunshine Act reports
The International Council of Nurses provides some guidance on industry interactions in its position statement on nurse-industry relations
The UK General Medical Council provides guidance on financial and commercial arrangements and conflicts of interest as part of its good medical practice website, which describes what is required of all registered doctors in the UK
Understanding and Responding to Pharmaceutical Promotion: A Practical Guide is a manual prepared by Health Action International and the World Health Organization that schools of medicine and pharmacy can use to train students how to recognize and respond to pharmaceutical promotion.
The Institute of Medicine's Report on Conflict of Interest in Medical Research, Education, and Practice recommends steps to identify, limit, and manage conflicts of interest
The University of California, San Francisco, Office of Continuing Medical Education offers a course called Marketing of Medicines
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001561
PMCID: PMC3841103  PMID: 24302892
4.  The Potential Impact of Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis for HIV Prevention among Men Who Have Sex with Men and Transwomen in Lima, Peru: A Mathematical Modelling Study 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(10):e1001323.
Gabriela Gomez and colleagues developed a mathematical model of the HIV epidemic among men who have sex with men and transwomen in Lima, Peru to explore whether HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis could be a cost-effective addition to existing HIV prevention strategies.
Background
HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), the use of antiretroviral drugs by uninfected individuals to prevent HIV infection, has demonstrated effectiveness in preventing acquisition in a high-risk population of men who have sex with men (MSM). Consequently, there is a need to understand if and how PrEP can be used cost-effectively to prevent HIV infection in such populations.
Methods and Findings
We developed a mathematical model representing the HIV epidemic among MSM and transwomen (male-to-female transgender individuals) in Lima, Peru, as a test case. PrEP effectiveness in the model is assumed to result from the combination of a “conditional efficacy” parameter and an adherence parameter. Annual operating costs from a health provider perspective were based on the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention interim guidelines for PrEP use. The model was used to investigate the population-level impact, cost, and cost-effectiveness of PrEP under a range of implementation scenarios. The epidemiological impact of PrEP is largely driven by programme characteristics. For a modest PrEP coverage of 5%, over 8% of infections could be averted in a programme prioritising those at higher risk and attaining the adherence levels of the Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis Initiative study. Across all scenarios, the highest estimated cost per disability-adjusted life year averted (uniform strategy for a coverage level of 20%, US$1,036–US$4,254) is below the World Health Organization recommended threshold for cost-effective interventions, while only certain optimistic scenarios (low coverage of 5% and some or high prioritisation) are likely to be cost-effective using the World Bank threshold. The impact of PrEP is reduced if those on PrEP decrease condom use, but only extreme behaviour changes among non-adherers (over 80% reduction in condom use) and a low PrEP conditional efficacy (40%) would adversely impact the epidemic. However, PrEP will not arrest HIV transmission in isolation because of its incomplete effectiveness and dependence on adherence, and because the high cost of programmes limits the coverage levels that could potentially be attained.
Conclusions
A strategic PrEP intervention could be a cost-effective addition to existing HIV prevention strategies for MSM populations. However, despite being cost-effective, a substantial expenditure would be required to generate significant reductions in incidence.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Without a vaccine, the only ways to halt the global HIV epidemic are prevention strategies that reduce transmission of the HIV virus. Up until recently, behavioral strategies such as condom use and reduction of sexual partners have been at the center of HIV prevention. In the past few years, several biological prevention measures have also been shown to be effective in reducing (though not completely preventing) HIV transmission. These include male circumcision, treatment for prevention (giving antiretroviral drugs to HIV-infected people, before they need it for their own health, to reduce their infectiousness) and pre-exposure prophylaxis (or PrEP), in which HIV-negative people use antiretroviral drugs to protect themselves from infection. One PrEP regimen (a daily pill containing two different antiretrovirals) has been shown in a clinical trial to reduce new infections by 44% in of men who have sex with men (MSM). In July 2012, the US Food and Drug Administration approved this PrEP regimen to reduce the risk of HIV infection in uninfected men and women who are at high risk of HIV infection and who may engage in sexual activity with HIV-infected partners. The approval makes it clear that PrEP needs to be used in combination with safe sex practices.
Why Was This Study Done?
Clinical trials have shown that PrEP can reduce HIV infections among participants, but they have not examined the consequences PrEP could have at the population level. Before decision-makers can decide whether to invest in PrEP programs, they need to know about the costs and benefits at the population level. Besides the price of the drug itself, the costs include HIV testing before starting PrEP, as well as regular tests thereafter. The health benefits of reducing new HIV infections are calculated in “disability-adjusted life years” (or DALYs) averted. One DALY is equal to one year of healthy life lost. Other benefits include future savings in lifelong HIV/AIDS treatment for every person whose infection is prevented by PrEP.
This study estimates the potential costs and health benefits of several hypothetical PrEP roll-out scenarios among the community of MSM in Lima, Peru. The scientists chose this community because many of the participants in the clinical trial that showed that PrEP can reduce infections came from this community, and they therefore have some knowledge on how PrEP affects HIV infection rates and behavior in this population. Because the HIV epidemic in Lima is concentrated among MSM, similar to most of Latin America and several other developed countries, the results might also be relevant for the evaluation of PrEP in other places.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
For their scenarios, the researchers looked at “high coverage” and “low coverage” scenarios, in which 20% and 5% of uninfected individuals use PrEP, respectively. They also divided the MSM community into those at lower risk of becoming infected and those at higher risk. The latter group consisted of transwomen at higher risk (transsexuals and transvestites with many sexual partners) and male sex workers. In a “uniform coverage” scenario, PrEP is equally distributed among all MSM. “Prioritized scenarios” cover transwomen at higher risk and sex workers preferentially. Two additional important factors for the estimated benefits are treatment adherence (i.e., whether people take the pills they have been prescribed faithfully over long periods of time even though they are not sick) and changes in risk behavior (i.e., whether the perceived protection provided by PrEP leads to more unprotected sex).
The cost estimates for PrEP included the costs of the drug itself and HIV tests prior to PrEP prescription and at three-month intervals thereafter, as well as outreach and counseling services and condom and lubricant promotion and provision.
To judge whether under the various scenarios PrEP is cost-effective, the researchers applied two commonly used but different cost-effectiveness thresholds. The World Health Organization's WHO-CHOICE initiative considers an intervention cost-effective if its cost is less than three times the gross domestic product (GDP) per capita per DALY averted. For Peru, this means an intervention should cost less than US$16,302 per DALY. The World Bank has more stringent criteria: it considers an intervention cost-effective for a middle-income country like Peru if it costs less than US$500 per DALY averted.
The researchers estimate that PrEP is cost-effective in Lima's MSM population for most scenarios by WHO-CHOICE guidelines. Only scenarios that prioritize PrEP to those most likely to become infected (i.e., transwomen at higher risk and sex workers) are cost-effective (and only barely) by the more stringent World Bank criteria. If the savings on antiretroviral drugs to treat people with HIV (those who would have become infected without PrEP) are included in the calculation, most scenarios become cost-effective, even under World Bank criteria.
The most cost-effective scenario, namely, having a modest coverage of 5%, prioritizing PrEP to transwomen at higher risk and sex workers, and assuming fairly high adherence levels among PrEP recipients, is estimated to avert about 8% of new infections among this community over ten years.
What Do these Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that under some circumstances, PrEP could be a cost-effective tool to reduce new HIV infections. However, as the researchers discuss, PrEP is expensive and only partly effective. Moreover, its effectiveness depends on two behavioral factors—adherence to a strict drug regimen and continued practicing of safe sex—both of which remain hard to predict. As a consequence, PrEP alone is not a valid strategy to prevent new HIV infections. It needs instead to be considered as one of several available tools. If and when PrEP is chosen as part of an integrated prevention strategy will depend on the specific target population, the overall funds available, and how well its cost-effectiveness compares with other prevention measures.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001323.
Information is available from the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases on HIV infection and AIDS
NAM/aidsmap provides basic information about HIV/AIDS, summaries of recent research findings on HIV care and treatment, and a section on PrEP
Information is available from Avert, an international AIDS charity, on many aspects of HIV/AIDS, including HIV prevention
AVAC Global Advocacy for HIV Prevention provides up-to-date information on HIV prevention, including PrEP
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also has information on PrEP
The World Health Organization has a page on its WHO-CHOICE criteria for cost-effectiveness
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001323
PMCID: PMC3467261  PMID: 23055836
5.  Antibiotic Prescribing in DR Congo: A Knowledge, Attitude and Practice Survey among Medical Doctors and Students 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e55495.
Objectives
Antibiotic resistance (ABR) particularly hits resource poor countries, and is fuelled by irrational antibiotic (AB) prescribing. We surveyed knowledge, attitudes and practices of AB prescribing among medical students and doctors in Kisangani, DR Congo.
Methods
Self-administered questionnaires.
Results
A total of 184 questionnaires were completed (response rate 94.4%). Knowledge about AB was low (mean score 4.9/8 points), as was the estimation of local resistance rates of S. Typhi and Klebsiella spp.(correct by 42.5% and 6.9% of respondents respectively). ABR was recognized as a problem though less in their own practice (67.4%) than nation- or worldwide (92.9% and 85.5%, p<.0001). Confidence in AB prescribing was high (88.6%) and students consulted more frequently colleagues than medical doctors when prescribing (25.4% versus 11.6%, p  = 0.19). Sources of AB prescribing included pharmaceutical companies (73.9%), antibiotic guidelines (66.3%), university courses (63.6%), internet-sites (45.7%) and WHO guidelines (26.6%). Only 30.4% and 16.3% respondents perceived AB procured through the central procurement and local pharmacies as of good quality. Local AB guidelines and courses about AB prescribing are welcomed (73.4% and 98.8% respectively).
Conclusions
This data shows the need for interventions that support rational AB prescribing.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0055495
PMCID: PMC3575397  PMID: 23441152
6.  The Knowledge, Attitude and the Perception of Prescribers on the Rational Use of Antibiotics and the Need for an Antibiotic Policy–A Cross Sectional Survey in a Tertiary Care Hospital 
Background: Antibiotics are prescribed frequently and there is always an overuse with a risk of resistance and increasing costs. Rational drug prescribing is essential for minimizing the health care costs and for reducing the resistance. The implementation of a strict antibiotic policy by all the health care institutes is being made mandatory nowadays. An improving awareness among the prescribers which can be created through educational interventions, can promote the rational use of antibiotics. Hence, we considered it worthwhile to study the knowledge, attitude and the perception of the practitioners towards a rational antibiotic use.
Materials and Methods: All the registered practitioners who were working in the hospital setting and were willing to give written informed consents, were enrolled in the study. All the participants who were enrolled in the study during a one month period, had to fill up a predesigned, structured and validated questionnaire which was used to assess the knowledge, attitude and the perception among physicians towards the rational use of antibiotics.
Results: About 65% of the participants who provided complete information in the questionnaire, were included in analysis. Among them, more than 50 % agreed on the existence of an essential drug list, on the knowledge about new antibiotics and on prescribing antibiotics rationally and on the interpretation of the culture and the sensitivity results. A majority strongly agreed that they ensured that their patients completed the course, that they provided counselling and that they took special interest in the proper use of antibiotics. There was a consensus on the overuse, issues of resistance, and on the input from fellow colleagues.
Conclusion: The participants in our study had knowledge about the rational use of antibiotics, an attitude to prescribe drugs as per the essential drug list and a perception that antibiotics were being overused and that rational drug prescribing had an important role in the antibiotic resistance.
doi:10.7860/JCDR/2013/5413.2879
PMCID: PMC3644442  PMID: 23730644
Antibiotic policy; Rational drug use; Drug resistance
7.  Engaging the private sector to improve antimicrobial use in the community: experience from accredited drug dispensing outlets in Tanzania 
Objectives
A public-private partnership in Tanzania launched the accredited drug dispensing outlet (ADDO) program to improve access to quality medicines and pharmaceutical services in rural areas. ADDO dispensers play a potentially important role in promoting the rational use of antimicrobials, which helps control antimicrobial resistance (AMR). The study objectives were to 1) improve dispensing practices of antimicrobials, 2) build ADDO dispensers’ awareness of the consequences of misusing antimicrobials, and 3) educate consumers on the correct use of antimicrobials through the use of printed materials and counseling.
Methods
Our intervention targeted ADDO dispensers and community members in Kilosa district. We promoted AMR awareness using posters hung in public places, health facilities, and ADDOs; sensitizing 84 health care providers on AMR issues; and providing training and on-site support for 124 ADDO dispensers to increase their AMR knowledge and dispensing skills. Baseline and endline assessments included direct observation of dispensers’ practices; interviews with ADDO dispensers (71 at baseline and 68 at endline) regarding dispensing experiences; 230 exit interviews with ADDO customers regarding use of antimicrobials during monitoring visits; and review of ADDO records. Indicators were based on product availability, dispensing practices, customers’ knowledge of how to take their medicines, and dispenser and public awareness of the AMR threat.
Results
Availability of tracer antimicrobials increased by 26% (p = 0.0088), and the proportion of ADDOs with unauthorized items decreased from 53% to 13% (p = 0.0001). The percentage of ADDO dispensers following good dispensing practices increased from an average of 67% in the first monitoring visit to an average of 91% during the last visit (p = 0.0001). After the intervention, more dispensers could name more factors contributing to AMR and negative consequences of inappropriate antimicrobial use, and over 95% of ADDO customers knew important information about the medicines they were dispensed.
Conclusions
Providing educational materials and equipping ADDO dispensers with knowledge and tools helps significantly improve community medicine use and possibly reduces AMR. The number of community members who learned about AMR from ADDO dispensers indicates that they are an important source of information on medicine use.
doi:10.1186/2052-3211-7-11
PMCID: PMC4177420  PMID: 25298887
Antimicrobial resistance; Drug seller; Medicine use; Private sector; Tanzania
8.  Antimicrobial resistance: a global view from the 2013 World Healthcare-Associated Infections Forum 
Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is now a global threat. Its emergence rests on antimicrobial overuse in humans and food-producing animals; globalization and suboptimal infection control facilitate its spread. While aggressive measures in some countries have led to the containment of some resistant gram-positive organisms, extensively resistant gram-negative organisms such as carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae and pan-resistant Acinetobacter spp. continue their rapid spread. Antimicrobial conservation/stewardship programs have seen some measure of success in reducing antimicrobial overuse in humans, but their reach is limited to acute-care settings in high-income countries. Outside the European Union, there is scant or no oversight of antimicrobial administration to food-producing animals, while evidence mounts that this administration leads directly to resistant human infections. Both horizontal and vertical infection control measures can interrupt transmission among humans, but many of these are costly and essentially limited to high-income countries as well. Novel antimicrobials are urgently needed; in recent decades pharmaceutical companies have largely abandoned antimicrobial discovery and development given their high costs and low yield. Against this backdrop, international and cross-disciplinary collaboration appears to be taking root in earnest, although specific strategies still need defining. Educational programs targeting both antimicrobial prescribers and consumers must be further developed and supported. The general public must continue to be made aware of the current scale of AMR’s threat, and must perceive antimicrobials as they are: a non-renewable and endangered resource.
doi:10.1186/2047-2994-2-31
PMCID: PMC4131211  PMID: 24237856
Antimicrobial resistance; Antimicrobial conservation; Antibiotic stewardship; Infection control; Hand hygiene; Surveillance networks; Care bundles; Environment; Regulations; Human medicine; Animal medicine; Global health; World Healthcare-Associated Infections Forum
9.  Attitudes and Relationship between Physicians and the Pharmaceutical Industry in a Public General Hospital in Lima, Peru 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e100114.
Background
The interaction between physicians and the pharmaceutical industry influences physicians' attitudes and prescribing behavior. Although largely studied in the US, this topic has not been well studied in resource-poor settings, where a close relationship between physicians and industry still exists.
Objective
To describe physician interactions with and attitudes towards the pharmaceutical industry in a public general hospital in Lima, Peru.
Design
Descriptive, cross-sectional study through an anonymous, self-filled questionnaire distributed among faculty and trainee physicians of five different clinical departments working in a Peruvian public general hospital. A transcultural validation of an existing Spanish questionnaire was performed. Exposure to marketing activities, motivations to contact pharmaceutical representatives and attitudes towards industry were studied. Collected data was analyzed by degree of training, clinical department, gender and teaching status. Attitudes were measured on a four-point LIKERT scale.
Results
155 physicians completed the survey, of which 148 were included in the study sample. 94.5% of attending physicians reported ongoing encounters with pharmaceutical representatives. The most common industry-related activities were receiving medical samples (91.2%), promotional material (87.8%) and attending meetings in restaurants (81.8%). Respondents considered medical samples and continuing medical education the most ethically acceptable benefits. We found significant differences between attendings and residents, and teaching and non-teaching attendings. An association between the amount of encounters with pharmaceutical representatives, and attitudes towards industry and acceptance of medical samples was found.
Conclusions
A close physician-industry relationship exists in the population under study. The contact is established mainly through pharmaceutical representatives. Medical samples are the most received and ethically accepted benefit. The attitudes of physicians on the ethical standards of acceptance of medical samples and other benefits are closely related with their exposure to the pharmaceutical industry. Future studies could explore the motivations of physicians working in resource-poor settings to maintain a close relationship with industry.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0100114
PMCID: PMC4076259  PMID: 24978481
10.  Physician behaviour for antimicrobial prescribing for paediatric upper respiratory tract infections: a survey in general practice in Trinidad, West Indies 
Background
Upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs) are among the most frequent reasons for physician office visits in paediatrics. Despite their predominant viral aetiology, URTIs continue to be treated with antimicrobials. We explored general practitioners' (GPs) prescribing behaviour for antimicrobials in children (≤ 16 years) with URTIs in Trinidad, using the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as a reference.
Methods
A cross-sectional study was conducted on 92 consenting GPs from the 109 contacted in Central and East Trinidad, between January to June 2003. Using a pilot-tested questionnaire, GPs identified the 5 most frequent URTIs they see in office and reported on their antimicrobial prescribing practices for these URTIs to trained research students.
Results
The 5 most frequent URTIs presenting in children in general practice, are the common cold, pharyngitis, tonsillitis, sinusitis and acute otitis media (AOM) in rank order. GPs prescribe at least 25 different antibiotics for these URTIs with significant associations for amoxicillin, co-amoxiclav, cefaclor, cefuroxime, erythromycin, clarithromycin and azithromycin (p < 0.001). Amoxicillin alone or with clavulanate was the most frequently prescribed antibiotic for all URTIs. Prescribing variations from the CDC recommendations were observed for all URTIs except for AOM (50%), the most common condition for antibiotics. Doctors practicing for >30 years were more likely to prescribe antibiotics for the common cold (p = 0.014). Severity (95.7%) and duration of illness (82.5%) influenced doctors' prescribing and over prescribing in general practice was attributed to parent demands (75%) and concern for secondary bacterial infections (70%). Physicians do not request laboratory investigations primarily because they are unnecessary (86%) and the waiting time for results is too long (51%).
Conclusions
Antibiotics are over prescribed for paediatric URTIs in Trinidad and amoxicillin with co-amoxiclav were preferentially prescribed. Except for AOM, GPs' prescribing varied from the CDC guidelines for drug and duration. Physicians recognise antibiotics are overused and consider parents expecting antibiotics and a concern for secondary bacterial infections are prescribing pressures. Guidelines to manage URTIs, ongoing surveillance programs for antibiotic resistance, public health education on non-antibiotic strategies, and postgraduate education for rational pharmacotherapy in general practice would decrease inappropriate antibiotic use in URTIs.
doi:10.1186/1476-0711-3-11
PMCID: PMC441403  PMID: 15196306
11.  Antimicrobial resistance pattern in a tertiary care hospital: An observational study 
Context:
The number of organisms developing resistance to commonly used antibiotics is increasing among the various generations. The exact national scenario of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is not known in India owing to the absence of a central monitoring agency.
Aims:
The aim of this study is to identify the group of organisms developing resistance, to know the classes of drugs against, which resistance has emerged and to assess the possible factors that can favor the development of AMR so that antibiotic policy can be formulated for the proper and effective use of antibiotics.
Settings and Design:
An observational study was conducted for a period of 1 year from August 2011 to July 2012 in a tertiary care hospital in Pondicherry.
Subjects and Methods:
Data regarding culture and sensitivity of the organisms isolated from different sources such as urine, blood, wound swab/pus, stool, sputum and tracheal aspirations were collected from the records of the Microbiology Department. Sample processing, identification of organisms to the genus and/or species level and antimicrobial sensitivity were carried out as per the Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute guidelines on the 999 samples received.
Results:
Out of 999 samples, 125 (12.5%) showed significant growth of organisms exhibiting resistance to either single or multiple drugs. Out of 84 (67.2%) in-patients and 41 (32.8%) out-patient samples, Escherichia was the most common organism isolated with a total of 41 (32.8%), followed by Methicillin sensitive Staphylococcus aureus, 26 (20.8%), Klebsiella 25 (20%), Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus 17 (13.6%), Pseudomonas 10 (8%), Proteus 2 (1.6%), 1 (0.8%) each of Citrobacter and Enterococci. Maximum resistance was observed with commonly used first line antimicrobials such as co-trimoxazole, ampicillin, amoxicillin, amoxyclav, fluoroquinolones, third generation cephalosporins and nalidixic acid. Least resistant or highly sensitive were amikacin, nitrofurantoin, gentamycin and doxycycline among the gram-negative bacteria. Macrolides, clindamycin, gentamycin, nitrofurantoin, vancomycin were the most sensitive antimicrobials against the gram-positive bacteria. Lack of knowledge on the consequences of inappropriate use of antibiotics was exhibited by 63% of subjects in our study.
Conclusions:
AMR was more with hospital acquired organisms and against commonly used antibiotics that are available since long period. Variation of resistance and sensitivity pattern with time and geographical location is identified. Periodic AMR monitoring and rotation of antibiotics are suggested to restrict further emergence of resistance.
doi:10.4103/0976-0105.118797
PMCID: PMC3979270  PMID: 24808672
Antibiotics; antimicrobial resistance; observational study
12.  Comparative Prevalence of Antimicrobial Resistance in Community-Acquired Urinary Tract Infection Cases from Representative States of Northern and Southern India 
Context: Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are amongst the most common infections described in outpatient settings. Increased antimicrobial resistance (AMR) of urinary tract pathogens is a matter of global public health concern. Treatment of UTI depends on both prevalence and antimicrobial resistance (AMR) of causative bacteria at any specific geographical location.
Aim: This study was undertaken to compare the prevalence of uropathogens and their AMR profile in two different geographical parts of India.
Materials and Methods: Clean-catch mid-stream urine samples were collected from adult patients, bacterial flora isolated from human urine was evaluated for antimicrobial susceptibility profile using Kirby Bauer’s disc diffusion method among patients from Hyderabad (Southern India), Rajasthan and Punjab (Northern India). The data were analysed using Chi-square (χ2) test, confidence interval (CI), odds ratio (OR) analysis and p-value using SPSS 16 software.
Results: Escherichia coli (55.1%) were the most prevalent isolates followed by Enterococcus faecalis (15.8%). Amikacin was the most active antimicrobial agents which showed low resistance rate of 14%. The present study revealed the geographical difference in prevalence of uropathogens with Klebsiella pneumoniae being the second most common uropathogen followed by E. faecalis in the states from northern India while no K. pneumoniae was seen in samples from southern India but E. faecalis was the second most prevalent organism.
Conclusion: Therefore, development of regional surveillance programs is highly recommended for implementation of national CA-UTI guidelines in Indian settings.
doi:10.7860/JCDR/2014/9349.4889
PMCID: PMC4225884  PMID: 25386432
Antimicrobial resistance; Bacteriuria and antibiotics; Community-acquired urinary yract infections; Uropathogens
13.  Information from Pharmaceutical Companies and the Quality, Quantity, and Cost of Physicians' Prescribing: A Systematic Review 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(10):e1000352.
Geoff Spurling and colleagues report findings of a systematic review looking at the relationship between exposure to promotional material from pharmaceutical companies and the quality, quantity, and cost of prescribing. They fail to find evidence of improvements in prescribing after exposure, and find some evidence of an association with higher prescribing frequency, higher costs, or lower prescribing quality.
Background
Pharmaceutical companies spent $57.5 billion on pharmaceutical promotion in the United States in 2004. The industry claims that promotion provides scientific and educational information to physicians. While some evidence indicates that promotion may adversely influence prescribing, physicians hold a wide range of views about pharmaceutical promotion. The objective of this review is to examine the relationship between exposure to information from pharmaceutical companies and the quality, quantity, and cost of physicians' prescribing.
Methods and Findings
We searched for studies of physicians with prescribing rights who were exposed to information from pharmaceutical companies (promotional or otherwise). Exposures included pharmaceutical sales representative visits, journal advertisements, attendance at pharmaceutical sponsored meetings, mailed information, prescribing software, and participation in sponsored clinical trials. The outcomes measured were quality, quantity, and cost of physicians' prescribing. We searched Medline (1966 to February 2008), International Pharmaceutical Abstracts (1970 to February 2008), Embase (1997 to February 2008), Current Contents (2001 to 2008), and Central (The Cochrane Library Issue 3, 2007) using the search terms developed with an expert librarian. Additionally, we reviewed reference lists and contacted experts and pharmaceutical companies for information. Randomized and observational studies evaluating information from pharmaceutical companies and measures of physicians' prescribing were independently appraised for methodological quality by two authors. Studies were excluded where insufficient study information precluded appraisal. The full text of 255 articles was retrieved from electronic databases (7,185 studies) and other sources (138 studies). Articles were then excluded because they did not fulfil inclusion criteria (179) or quality appraisal criteria (18), leaving 58 included studies with 87 distinct analyses. Data were extracted independently by two authors and a narrative synthesis performed following the MOOSE guidelines. Of the set of studies examining prescribing quality outcomes, five found associations between exposure to pharmaceutical company information and lower quality prescribing, four did not detect an association, and one found associations with lower and higher quality prescribing. 38 included studies found associations between exposure and higher frequency of prescribing and 13 did not detect an association. Five included studies found evidence for association with higher costs, four found no association, and one found an association with lower costs. The narrative synthesis finding of variable results was supported by a meta-analysis of studies of prescribing frequency that found significant heterogeneity. The observational nature of most included studies is the main limitation of this review.
Conclusions
With rare exceptions, studies of exposure to information provided directly by pharmaceutical companies have found associations with higher prescribing frequency, higher costs, or lower prescribing quality or have not found significant associations. We did not find evidence of net improvements in prescribing, but the available literature does not exclude the possibility that prescribing may sometimes be improved. Still, we recommend that practitioners follow the precautionary principle and thus avoid exposure to information from pharmaceutical companies.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
A prescription drug is a medication that can be supplied only with a written instruction (“prescription”) from a physician or other licensed healthcare professional. In 2009, 3.9 billion drug prescriptions were dispensed in the US alone and US pharmaceutical companies made US$300 billion in sales revenue. Every year, a large proportion of this revenue is spent on drug promotion. In 2004, for example, a quarter of US drug revenue was spent on pharmaceutical promotion. The pharmaceutical industry claims that drug promotion—visits from pharmaceutical sales representatives, advertisements in journals and prescribing software, sponsorship of meetings, mailed information—helps to inform and educate healthcare professionals about the risks and benefits of their products and thereby ensures that patients receive the best possible care. Physicians, however, hold a wide range of views about pharmaceutical promotion. Some see it as a useful and convenient source of information. Others deny that they are influenced by pharmaceutical company promotion but claim that it influences other physicians. Meanwhile, several professional organizations have called for tighter control of promotional activities because of fears that pharmaceutical promotion might encourage physicians to prescribe inappropriate or needlessly expensive drugs.
Why Was This Study Done?
But is there any evidence that pharmaceutical promotion adversely influences prescribing? Reviews of the research literature undertaken in 2000 and 2005 provide some evidence that drug promotion influences prescribing behavior. However, these reviews only partly assessed the relationship between information from pharmaceutical companies and prescribing costs and quality and are now out of date. In this study, therefore, the researchers undertake a systematic review (a study that uses predefined criteria to identify all the research on a given topic) to reexamine the relationship between exposure to information from pharmaceutical companies and the quality, quantity, and cost of physicians' prescribing.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers searched the literature for studies of licensed physicians who were exposed to promotional and other information from pharmaceutical companies. They identified 58 studies that included a measure of exposure to any type of information directly provided by pharmaceutical companies and a measure of physicians' prescribing behavior. They then undertook a “narrative synthesis,” a descriptive analysis of the data in these studies. Ten of the studies, they report, examined the relationship between exposure to pharmaceutical company information and prescribing quality (as judged, for example, by physician drug choices in response to clinical vignettes). All but one of these studies suggested that exposure to drug company information was associated with lower prescribing quality or no association was detected. In the 51 studies that examined the relationship between exposure to drug company information and prescribing frequency, exposure to information was associated with more frequent prescribing or no association was detected. Thus, for example, 17 out of 29 studies of the effect of pharmaceutical sales representatives' visits found an association between visits and increased prescribing; none found an association with less frequent prescribing. Finally, eight studies examined the relationship between exposure to pharmaceutical company information and prescribing costs. With one exception, these studies indicated that exposure to information was associated with a higher cost of prescribing or no association was detected. So, for example, one study found that physicians with low prescribing costs were more likely to have rarely or never read promotional mail or journal advertisements from pharmaceutical companies than physicians with high prescribing costs.
What Do These Findings Mean?
With rare exceptions, these findings suggest that exposure to pharmaceutical company information is associated with either no effect on physicians' prescribing behavior or with adverse affects (reduced quality, increased frequency, or increased costs). Because most of the studies included in the review were observational studies—the physicians in the studies were not randomly selected to receive or not receive drug company information—it is not possible to conclude that exposure to information actually causes any changes in physician behavior. Furthermore, although these findings provide no evidence for any net improvement in prescribing after exposure to pharmaceutical company information, the researchers note that it would be wrong to conclude that improvements do not sometimes happen. The findings support the case for reforms to reduce negative influence to prescribing from pharmaceutical promotion.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000352.
Wikipedia has pages on prescription drugs and on pharmaceutical marketing (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
The UK General Medical Council provides guidelines on good practice in prescribing medicines
The US Food and Drug Administration provides information on prescription drugs and on its Bad Ad Program
Healthy Skepticism is an international nonprofit membership association that aims to improve health by reducing harm from misleading health information
The Drug Promotion Database was developed by the World Health Organization Department of Essential Drugs & Medicines Policy and Health Action International Europe to address unethical and inappropriate drug promotion
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000352
PMCID: PMC2957394  PMID: 20976098
14.  Rational Prescribing in Primary Care (RaPP): A Cluster Randomized Trial of a Tailored Intervention 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(6):e134.
Background
A gap exists between evidence and practice regarding the management of cardiovascular risk factors. This gap could be narrowed if systematically developed clinical practice guidelines were effectively implemented in clinical practice. We evaluated the effects of a tailored intervention to support the implementation of systematically developed guidelines for the use of antihypertensive and cholesterol-lowering drugs for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease.
Methods and Findings
We conducted a cluster-randomized trial comparing a tailored intervention to passive dissemination of guidelines in 146 general practices in two geographical areas in Norway. Each practice was randomized to either the tailored intervention (70 practices; 257 physicians) or control group (69 practices; 244 physicians). Patients started on medication for hypertension or hypercholesterolemia during the study period and all patients already on treatment that consulted their physician during the trial were included. A multifaceted intervention was tailored to address identified barriers to change. Key components were an educational outreach visit with audit and feedback, and computerized reminders linked to the medical record system. Pharmacists conducted the visits. Outcomes were measured for all eligible patients seen in the participating practices during 1 y before and after the intervention. The main outcomes were the proportions of (1) first-time prescriptions for hypertension where thiazides were prescribed, (2) patients assessed for cardiovascular risk before prescribing antihypertensive or cholesterol-lowering drugs, and (3) patients treated for hypertension or hypercholesterolemia for 3 mo or more who had achieved recommended treatment goals.
The intervention led to an increase in adherence to guideline recommendations on choice of antihypertensive drug. Thiazides were prescribed to 17% of patients in the intervention group versus 11% in the control group (relative risk 1.94; 95% confidence interval 1.49–2.49, adjusted for baseline differences and clustering effect). Little or no differences were found for risk assessment prior to prescribing and for achievement of treatment goals.
Conclusions
Our tailored intervention had a significant impact on prescribing of antihypertensive drugs, but was ineffective in improving the quality of other aspects of managing hypertension and hypercholesterolemia in primary care.
Editors' Summary
Background.
An important issue in health care is “getting research into practice,” in other words, making sure that, when evidence from research has established the best way to treat a disease, doctors actually use that approach with their patients. In reality, there is often a gap between evidence and practice.
  An example concerns the treatment of people who have high blood pressure (hypertension) and/or high cholesterol. These are common conditions, and both increase the risk of having a heart attack or a stroke. Research has shown that the risks can be lowered if patients with these conditions are given drugs that lower blood pressure (antihypertensives) and drugs that lower cholesterol. There are many types of these drugs now available. In many countries, the health authorities want family doctors (general practitioners) to make better use of these drugs. They want doctors to prescribe them to everyone who would benefit, using the type of drugs found to be most effective. When there is a choice of drugs that are equally effective, they want doctors to use the cheapest type. (In the case of antihypertensives, an older type, known as thiazides, is very effective and also very cheap, but many doctors prefer to give their patients newer, more expensive alternatives.) Health authorities have issued guidelines to doctors that address these issues. However, it is not easy to change prescribing practices, and research in several countries has shown that issuing guidelines has only limited effects.
Why Was This Study Done?
The researchers wanted—in two parts of Norway—to compare the effects on prescribing practices of what they called the “passive dissemination of guidelines” with a more active approach, where the use of the guidelines was strongly promoted and encouraged.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
They worked with 146 general practices. In half of them the guidelines were actively promoted. The remaining were regarded as a control group; they were given the guidelines but no special efforts were made to encourage their use. It was decided at random which practices would be in which group; this approach is called a randomized controlled trial. The methods used to actively promote use of the guidelines included personal visits to the practices by pharmacists and use of a computerized reminder system. Information was then collected on the number of patients who, when first treated for hypertension, were prescribed a thiazide. Other information collected included whether patients had been properly assessed for their level of risk (for strokes and heart attacks) before antihypertensive or cholesterol-lowering drugs were given. In addition, the researchers recorded whether the recommended targets for improvement in blood pressure and cholesterol level had been reached.
Only 11% of those patients visiting the control group of practices who should have been prescribed thiazides, according to the guidelines, actually received them. Of those seen by doctors in the practices where the guidelines were actively promoted, 17% received thiazides. According to statistical analysis, the increase achieved by active promotion is significant. Little or no differences were found for risk assessment prior to prescribing and for achievement of treatment goals.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Even in the active promotion group, the great majority of patients (83%) were still not receiving treatment according to the guidelines. However, active promotion of guidelines is more effective than simply issuing the guidelines by themselves. The study also demonstrates that it is very hard to change prescribing practices. The efforts made here to encourage the doctors to change were considerable, and although the results were significant, they were still disappointing. Also disappointing is the fact that achievement of treatment goals was no better in the active-promotion group. These issues are discussed further in a Perspective about this study (DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.0030229).
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0030134.
• The Web site of the American Academy of Family Physicians has a page on heart disease
• The MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia's pages on heart diseases and vascular diseases
• Information from NHS Direct (UK National Health Service) about heart attack and stroke
• Another PLoS Medicine article has also addressed trends in thiazide prescribing
Passive dissemination of management guidelines for hypertension and hypercholesterolaemia was compared with active promotion. Active promotion led to significant improvement in antihypertensive prescribing but not other aspects of management.
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0030134
PMCID: PMC1472695  PMID: 16737346
15.  Natural Ventilation for the Prevention of Airborne Contagion 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(2):e68.
Background
Institutional transmission of airborne infections such as tuberculosis (TB) is an important public health problem, especially in resource-limited settings where protective measures such as negative-pressure isolation rooms are difficult to implement. Natural ventilation may offer a low-cost alternative. Our objective was to investigate the rates, determinants, and effects of natural ventilation in health care settings.
Methods and Findings
The study was carried out in eight hospitals in Lima, Peru; five were hospitals of “old-fashioned” design built pre-1950, and three of “modern” design, built 1970–1990. In these hospitals 70 naturally ventilated clinical rooms where infectious patients are likely to be encountered were studied. These included respiratory isolation rooms, TB wards, respiratory wards, general medical wards, outpatient consulting rooms, waiting rooms, and emergency departments. These rooms were compared with 12 mechanically ventilated negative-pressure respiratory isolation rooms built post-2000. Ventilation was measured using a carbon dioxide tracer gas technique in 368 experiments. Architectural and environmental variables were measured. For each experiment, infection risk was estimated for TB exposure using the Wells-Riley model of airborne infection. We found that opening windows and doors provided median ventilation of 28 air changes/hour (ACH), more than double that of mechanically ventilated negative-pressure rooms ventilated at the 12 ACH recommended for high-risk areas, and 18 times that with windows and doors closed (p < 0.001). Facilities built more than 50 years ago, characterised by large windows and high ceilings, had greater ventilation than modern naturally ventilated rooms (40 versus 17 ACH; p < 0.001). Even within the lowest quartile of wind speeds, natural ventilation exceeded mechanical (p < 0.001). The Wells-Riley airborne infection model predicted that in mechanically ventilated rooms 39% of susceptible individuals would become infected following 24 h of exposure to untreated TB patients of infectiousness characterised in a well-documented outbreak. This infection rate compared with 33% in modern and 11% in pre-1950 naturally ventilated facilities with windows and doors open.
Conclusions
Opening windows and doors maximises natural ventilation so that the risk of airborne contagion is much lower than with costly, maintenance-requiring mechanical ventilation systems. Old-fashioned clinical areas with high ceilings and large windows provide greatest protection. Natural ventilation costs little and is maintenance free, and is particularly suited to limited-resource settings and tropical climates, where the burden of TB and institutional TB transmission is highest. In settings where respiratory isolation is difficult and climate permits, windows and doors should be opened to reduce the risk of airborne contagion.
In eight hospitals in Lima, opening windows and doors maximised natural ventilation and lowered the risk of airborne infection. Old-fashioned clinical areas with high ceilings and large windows provide greatest protection.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Tuberculosis (TB) is a major cause of ill health and death worldwide, with around one-third of the world's population infected with the bacterium that causes it (Mycobacterium tuberculosis). One person with active tuberculosis can go on to infect many others; the bacterium is passed in tiny liquid droplets that are produced when someone with active disease coughs, sneezes, spits, or speaks. The risk of tuberculosis being transmitted in hospital settings is particularly high, because people with tuberculosis are often in close contact with very many other people. Currently, most guidelines recommend that the risk of transmission be controlled in certain areas where TB is more likely by making sure that the air in rooms is changed with fresh air between six and 12 times an hour. Air changes can be achieved with simple measures such as opening windows and doors, or by installing mechanical equipment that forces air changes and also keeps the air pressure in an isolation room lower than that outside it. Such “negative pressure,” mechanically ventilated systems are often used on tuberculosis wards to prevent air flowing from isolation rooms to other rooms outside, and so to prevent people on the tuberculosis ward from infecting others.
Why Was This Study Done?
In many parts of the world, hospitals do not have equipment even for simple air conditioning, let alone the special equipment needed for forcing high air changes in isolation rooms and wards. Instead they rely on opening windows and doors in order to reduce the transmission of TB, and this is called natural ventilation. However, it is not clear whether these sorts of measures are adequate for controlling TB transmission. It is important to find out what sorts of systems work best at controlling TB in the real world, so that hospitals and wards can be designed appropriately, within available resources.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
This study was based in Lima, Peru's capital city. The researchers studied a variety of rooms, including tuberculosis wards and respiratory isolation rooms, in the city's hospitals. Rooms which had only natural measures for encouraging airflow were compared with mechanically ventilated, negative pressure rooms, which were built much more recently. A comparison was also done between rooms in old hospitals that were naturally ventilated with rooms in newer hospitals that were also naturally ventilated. The researchers used a particular method to measure the number of air changes per hour within each room, and based on this they estimated the risk of a person with TB infecting others using a method called the Wells-Riley equation. The results showed that natural ventilation provided surprisingly high rates of air exchange, with an average of 28 air changes per hour. Hospitals over 50 years old, which generally had large windows and high ceilings, had the highest ventilation, with an average of 40 air changes per hour. This rate compared with 17 air changes per hour in naturally ventilated rooms in modern hospitals, which tended to have lower ceilings and smaller windows. The rooms with modern mechanical ventilation were supposed to have 12 air changes per hour but in reality this was not achieved, as the systems were not maintained properly. The Wells-Riley equation predicted that if an untreated person with tuberculosis was exposed to other people, within 24 hours this person would infect 39% of the people in the mechanically ventilated room, 33% of people in the naturally ventilated new hospital rooms, and only 11% of the people in the naturally ventilated old hospital rooms.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that natural methods of encouraging airflow (e.g., opening doors and windows) work well and in theory could reduce the likelihood of TB being carried from one person to another. Some aspects of the design of wards in old hospitals (such as large windows and high ceilings) are also likely to achieve better airflow and reduce the risk of infection. In poor countries, where mechanical ventilation systems might be too expensive to install and maintain properly, rooms that are designed to naturally achieve good airflow might be the best choice. Another advantage of natural ventilation is that it is not restricted by cost to just high-risk areas, and can therefore be used in many different parts of the hospital, including emergency departments, outpatient departments, and waiting rooms, and it is here that many infectious patients are to be found.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0040068.
Information from the World Health Organization on tuberculosis, detailing global efforts to prevent the spread of TB
The World Health Organization publishes guidelines for the prevention of TB in health care facilities in resource-limited settings
Tuberculosis infection control in the era of expanding HIV care and treatment is discussed in an addendum to the above booklet
The Centers for Disease Control have published guidelines for preventing the transmission of mycobacterium tuberculosis in health care settings
Wikipedia has an entry on nosocomial infections (diseases that are spread in hospital). Wikipedia is an internet encyclopedia anyone can edit
A PLoS Medicine Perspective by Peter Wilson, “Is Natural Ventilation a Useful Tool to Prevent the Airborne Spread of TB?” discusses the implications of this study
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0040068
PMCID: PMC1808096  PMID: 17326709
16.  Medical Students' Exposure to and Attitudes about the Pharmaceutical Industry: A Systematic Review 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(5):e1001037.
A systematic review of published studies reveals that undergraduate medical students may experience substantial exposure to pharmaceutical marketing, and that this contact may be associated with positive attitudes about marketing.
Background
The relationship between health professionals and the pharmaceutical industry has become a source of controversy. Physicians' attitudes towards the industry can form early in their careers, but little is known about this key stage of development.
Methods and Findings
We performed a systematic review reported according to PRISMA guidelines to determine the frequency and nature of medical students' exposure to the drug industry, as well as students' attitudes concerning pharmaceutical policy issues. We searched MEDLINE, EMBASE, Web of Science, and ERIC from the earliest available dates through May 2010, as well as bibliographies of selected studies. We sought original studies that reported quantitative or qualitative data about medical students' exposure to pharmaceutical marketing, their attitudes about marketing practices, relationships with industry, and related pharmaceutical policy issues. Studies were separated, where possible, into those that addressed preclinical versus clinical training, and were quality rated using a standard methodology. Thirty-two studies met inclusion criteria. We found that 40%–100% of medical students reported interacting with the pharmaceutical industry. A substantial proportion of students (13%–69%) were reported as believing that gifts from industry influence prescribing. Eight studies reported a correlation between frequency of contact and favorable attitudes toward industry interactions. Students were more approving of gifts to physicians or medical students than to government officials. Certain attitudes appeared to change during medical school, though a time trend was not performed; for example, clinical students (53%–71%) were more likely than preclinical students (29%–62%) to report that promotional information helps educate about new drugs.
Conclusions
Undergraduate medical education provides substantial contact with pharmaceutical marketing, and the extent of such contact is associated with positive attitudes about marketing and skepticism about negative implications of these interactions. These results support future research into the association between exposure and attitudes, as well as any modifiable factors that contribute to attitudinal changes during medical education.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
The complex relationship between health professionals and the pharmaceutical industry has long been a subject of discussion among physicians and policymakers. There is a growing body of evidence that suggests that physicians' interactions with pharmaceutical sales representatives may influence clinical decision making in a way that is not always in the best interests of individual patients, for example, encouraging the use of expensive treatments that have no therapeutic advantage over less costly alternatives. The pharmaceutical industry often uses physician education as a marketing tool, as in the case of Continuing Medical Education courses that are designed to drive prescribing practices.
One reason that physicians may be particularly susceptible to pharmaceutical industry marketing messages is that doctors' attitudes towards the pharmaceutical industry may form early in their careers. The socialization effect of professional schooling is strong, and plays a lasting role in shaping views and behaviors.
Why Was This Study Done?
Recently, particularly in the US, some medical schools have limited students' and faculties' contact with industry, but some have argued that these restrictions are detrimental to students' education. Given the controversy over the pharmaceutical industry's role in undergraduate medical training, consolidating current knowledge in this area may be useful for setting priorities for changes to educational practices. In this study, the researchers systematically examined studies of pharmaceutical industry interactions with medical students and whether such interactions influenced students' views on related topics.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers did a comprehensive literature search using appropriate search terms for all relevant quantitative and qualitative studies published before June 2010. Using strict inclusion criteria, the researchers then selected 48 articles (from 1,603 abstracts) for full review and identified 32 eligible for analysis—giving a total of approximately 9,850 medical students studying at 76 medical schools or hospitals.
Most students had some form of interaction with the pharmaceutical industry but contact increased in the clinical years, with up to 90% of all clinical students receiving some form of educational material. The highest level of exposure occurred in the US. In most studies, the majority of students in their clinical training years found it ethically permissible for medical students to accept gifts from drug manufacturers, while a smaller percentage of preclinical students reported such attitudes. Students justified their entitlement to gifts by citing financial hardship or by asserting that most other students accepted gifts. In addition, although most students believed that education from industry sources is biased, students variably reported that information obtained from industry sources was useful and a valuable part of their education.
Almost two-thirds of students reported that they were immune to bias induced by promotion, gifts, or interactions with sales representatives but also reported that fellow medical students or doctors are influenced by such encounters. Eight studies reported a relationship between exposure to the pharmaceutical industry and positive attitudes about industry interactions and marketing strategies (although not all included supportive statistical data). Finally, student opinions were split on whether physician–industry interactions should be regulated by medical schools or the government.
What Do These Findings Mean?
This analysis shows that students are frequently exposed to pharmaceutical marketing, even in the preclinical years, and that the extent of students' contact with industry is generally associated with positive attitudes about marketing and skepticism towards any negative implications of interactions with industry. Therefore, strategies to educate students about interactions with the pharmaceutical industry should directly address widely held misconceptions about the effects of marketing and other biases that can emerge from industry interactions. But education alone may be insufficient. Institutional policies, such as rules regulating industry interactions, can play an important role in shaping students' attitudes, and interventions that decrease students' contact with industry and eliminate gifts may have a positive effect on building the skills that evidence-based medical practice requires. These changes can help cultivate strong professional values and instill in students a respect for scientific principles and critical evidence review that will later inform clinical decision-making and prescribing practices.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001037.
Further information about the influence of the pharmaceutical industry on doctors and medical students can be found at the American Medical Students Association PharmFree campaign and PharmFree Scorecard, Medsin-UKs PharmAware campaign, the nonprofit organization Healthy Skepticism, and the Web site of No Free Lunch.
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001037
PMCID: PMC3101205  PMID: 21629685
17.  Exploring UK attitudes towards unlicensed medicines use: a questionnaire-based study of members of the general public and physicians 
Aims:
To undertake a questionnaire-based study to evaluate attitudes towards the use of unlicensed medicines among prescribing doctors and members of the general public (ie, patients). The study also aimed to explore the factors that influence physicians’ prescribing decisions and priorities, and to understand the knowledge of the medicines licensing system among members of the public.
Methods:
Novartis Pharmaceuticals UK Ltd funded the online interview of 500 members of the general public and 249 prescribing physicians. Best practice standards were followed for questionnaire-based studies; no specific treatments or conditions were mentioned or discussed.
Results:
Few of the participating physicians, only 14%, were very familiar with the UK General Medical Council (GMC) guidelines on the use of unlicensed medicines and just 17% felt very comfortable prescribing an unlicensed medication when a licensed alternative was available. Key physician concerns included the lack of safety data (76%), legal implications (76%), and safety monitoring associated with unlicensed medicine use (71%). Patients and physicians agreed that safety and efficacy are the most important prescribing considerations, although 48% of participating physicians were worried that budget pressures may increase pressure to prescribe unlicensed medications on the basis of cost. A high proportion of patients (81%) also indicated some degree of concern, were they to be prescribed an unlicensed medication when a licensed alternative was available specifically because it costs less.
Conclusions:
This UK-based questionnaire study suggests pervasive concerns among prescribers over the safety, monitoring, and legal implications of unlicensed prescribing. High levels of concern were expressed among patients and physicians if cost were to become an influential factor when making decisions between licensed and unlicensed medications.
doi:10.2147/IJGM.S28341
PMCID: PMC3259025  PMID: 22259259
patient; physician; unlicensed treatment; concern; safety; trust
18.  Significant Reduction of Antibiotic Use in the Community after a Nationwide Campaign in France, 2002–2007 
PLoS Medicine  2009;6(6):e1000084.
Didier Guillemot and colleagues describe the evaluation of a nationwide programme in France aimed at decreasing unnecessary outpatient prescriptions for antibiotics. The campaign was successful, particularly in reducing prescriptions for children.
Background
Overuse of antibiotics is the main force driving the emergence and dissemination of bacterial resistance in the community. France consumes more antibiotics and has the highest rate of beta-lactam resistance in Streptococcus pneumoniae than any other European country. In 2001, the government initiated “Keep Antibiotics Working”; the program's main component was a campaign entitled “Les antibiotiques c'est pas automatique” (“Antibiotics are not automatic”) launched in 2002. We report the evaluation of this campaign by analyzing the evolution of outpatient antibiotic use in France 2000–2007, according to therapeutic class and geographic and age-group patterns.
Methods and Findings
This evaluation is based on 2000–2007 data, including 453,407,458 individual reimbursement data records and incidence of flu-like syndromes (FLSs). Data were obtained from the computerized French National Health Insurance database and provided by the French Sentinel Network. As compared to the preintervention period (2000–2002), the total number of antibiotic prescriptions per 100 inhabitants, adjusted for FLS frequency during the winter season, changed by −26.5% (95% confidence interval [CI] −33.5% to −19.6%) over 5 years. The decline occurred in all 22 regions of France and affected all antibiotic therapeutic classes except quinolones. The greatest decrease, −35.8% (95% CI −48.3% to −23.2%), was observed among young children aged 6–15 years. A significant change of −45% in the relationship between the incidence of flu-like syndromes and antibiotic prescriptions was observed.
Conclusions
The French national campaign was associated with a marked reduction of unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions, particularly in children. This study provides a useful method for assessing public-health strategies designed to reduce antibiotic use.
Editors' Summary
Background
In 1928, Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin, the first antibiotic (a drug that kills bacteria). By the early 1940s, large amounts of penicillin could be made and, in the following decades, several other classes of powerful antibiotics were discovered. For a time, it looked like bacteria and the diseases that they cause had been defeated. But bacteria rapidly became resistant to these wonder drugs and nowadays, antibiotic resistance is a pressing public-health concern. Almost every type of disease-causing bacteria has developed resistance to one or more antibiotic in clinical use, and multidrug-resistant bacteria are causing outbreaks of potentially fatal diseases in hospitals and in the community. For example, multidrug-resistant Streptococcus pneumoniae (multidrug-resistant pneumococci or MRP) is now very common. S. pneumoniae colonize the nose and throat (the upper respiratory tract) and can cause diseases that range from mild ear infections to life-threatening pneumonia, particularly in young children and elderly people.
Why Was This Study Done?
For years, doctors have been prescribing (and patients have been demanding) antibiotics for viral respiratory infections (VRIs) such as colds and flu even though antibiotics do not cure viral infections. This overuse of antibiotics has been the main driving force in the spread of MRP. Thus, the highest rate of S. pneumoniae antibiotic resistance in Europe occurs in France, which has one of the highest rates of antibiotic consumption in the world. In 2001 France initiated “le plan national pour préserver l'efficacité des antibiotiques” to reduce the inappropriate use of antibiotics, particularly for the treatment of VRIs among children. The main component of the program was the “Antibiotiques c'est pas automatique” (“Antibiotics are not automatic”) campaign, which ran from 2002 to 2007 during the winter months when VRIs mainly occur. The campaign included an educational campaign for health care workers, the promotion of rapid tests for diagnosis of streptococcal infections, and a public information campaign about VRIs and about antibiotic resistance. In this study, the researchers evaluate the campaign by analyzing outpatient antibiotic use throughout France from 2000 to 2007.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers obtained information about antibiotic prescriptions and about the occurrence of flu-like illnesses during the study period from the French National Health Insurance database and national disease surveillance system, respectively. After adjusting for variations in the frequency of flu-like illnesses, compared to the preintervention period (2000–2002), the number of antibiotic prescriptions per 100 inhabitants decreased by a quarter over the five winters of the “Antibiotics are not automatic” campaign. The use of all major antibiotic classes except quinolones decreased in all 22 regions of France. Thus, whereas in 2000, more than 70 prescriptions per 100 inhabitants were issued during the winter in 15 regions, by 2006/7, no regions exceeded this prescription rate. The greatest decrease in prescription rate (a decrease of more than a third by 2006/7) was among children aged 6–15 years. Finally, although the rates of antibiotic prescriptions reflected the rates of flu-like illness throughout the campaign, by 2006/7 this relationship was much weaker, which suggests that fewer antibiotics were being prescribed for VRIs.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that the “Antibiotics are not automatic” campaign was associated with a reduction in antibiotic prescriptions, particularly in children. Because the whole French population was exposed to the campaign, these findings do not prove that the campaign actually caused the reduction in antibiotic prescriptions. The observed decrease might have been caused by other initiatives in France or elsewhere or by the introduction of a S. pneumoniae vaccine during the study period, for example. However, an independent survey indicated that fewer members of the public expected an antibiotic prescription for a VRI at the end of the campaign than at the start, that more people knew that antibiotics only kill bacteria, and that doctors were more confident about not prescribing antibiotics for VRIs. Thus, campaigns like “Antibiotics are not automatic” may be a promising way to reduce the overuse of antibiotics and to slow the spread of antibiotic resistance until new classes of effective antibiotics are developed.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000084.
This study is further discussed in a PLoS Medicine Perspective by Stephen Harbarth and Benedikt Huttner
The Bugs and Drugs Web site from the UK National electronic Library of Infection provides information about antibiotic resistance and links to other resources
The US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases provides information on antimicrobial drug resistance and on pneumococcal pneumonia
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also have information on antibiotic resistance (in English and Spanish)
The European Surveillance of Antimicrobial Consumption Web site provides information on antibiotic consumption in European countries
Les antibiotiques c'est pas automatique provides information about the “Antibiotics are not automatic” campaign (in French)
Information on the Plan National pour Pérserver l'efficacité des antibiotiques is also available (in French)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000084
PMCID: PMC2683932  PMID: 19492093
19.  Effect of postal prompts to patients and general practitioners on the quality of primary care after a coronary event (POST): randomised controlled trial 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  1999;318(7197):1522-1526.
Objectives
To determine whether postal prompts to patients who have survived an acute coronary event and to their general practitioners improve secondary prevention of coronary heart disease.
Design
Randomised controlled trial.
Setting
52 general practices in east London, 44 of which had received facilitation of local guidelines for coronary heart disease.
Participants
328 patients admitted to hospital for myocardial infarction or unstable angina.
Interventions
Postal prompts sent 2 weeks and 3 months after discharge from hospital. The prompts contained recommendations for lowering the risk of another coronary event, including changes to lifestyle, drug treatment, and making an appointment to discuss these issues with the general practitioner or practice nurse.
Main outcome measures
Proportion of patients in whom serum cholesterol concentrations were measured; proportion of patients prescribed β blockers (6 months after discharge); and proportion of patients prescribed cholesterol lowering drugs (1 year after discharge).
Results
Prescribing of β bockers (odds ratio 1.7, 95% confidence interval 0.8 to 3.0, P>0.05) and cholesterol lowering drugs (1.7, 0.8 to 3.4, P>0.05) did not differ between intervention and control groups. A higher proportion of patients in the intervention group (64%) than in the control group (38%) had their serum cholesterol concentrations measured (2.9, 1.5 to 5.5, P<0.001). Secondary outcomes were significantly improved for consultations for coronary heart disease, the recording of risk factors, and advice given. There were no significant differences in patients’ self reported changes to lifestyle or to the belief that it is possible to modify the risk of another coronary event.
Conclusions
Postal prompts to patients who had had acute coronary events and to their general practitioners in a locality where guidelines for coronary heart disease had been disseminated did not improve prescribing of effective drugs for secondary prevention or self reported changes to lifestyle. The prompts did increase consultation rates related to coronary heart disease and the recording of risk factors in the practices. Effective secondary prevention of coronary heart disease requires more than postal prompts and the dissemination of guidelines.
Key messages Postal prompts to patients and their general practitioners about effective secondary prevention after a myocardial infarction did not improve the prescribing of cholesterol lowering drugs and β blockers The prompts did improve general practice recording of cardiovascular risk factors and lifestyle advice given to patients, but they made no difference to patients’ reports of changes to lifestyle Other methods are needed to improve the quality of secondary prevention of coronary heart disease in general practice
PMCID: PMC27895  PMID: 10356008
20.  Change in Physician Knowledge and Attitudes After Implementation of a Pneumonia Practice Guideline 
OBJECTIVE
To assess physicians' response to implementation of an emergency department (ED) pneumonia practice guideline and determine if the guideline changed physicians' knowledge and attitudes about pneumonia care.
DESIGN
Prospective intervention study with cross-sectional and longitudinal physician surveys.
SETTING
An urban, university teaching hospital ED.
PARTICIPANTS
One hundred forty physicians who were responsible for the triage of at least one of 166 patients presenting to the ED with community-acquired pneumonia.
MEASUREMENTS
Physician characteristics, attitudes about pneumonia care and guidelines, and ratings of guideline helpfulness and effects on patient care were obtained by self administered questionnaire before, during, and after a yearlong intervention.
MAIN RESULTS
More than 73% of the physicians reported the guideline as helpful and more than 94% wanted it to be continued in the future. Most reported that the guideline would decrease costs and improve quality without any increase in adverse outcomes. Two thirds said they were more likely to treat patients with pneumonia as outpatients in the future because of the guideline. Among the 58 physicians with matching preintervention and postintervention survey data, the guideline decreased the beliefs that “all patients>65 years old with pneumonia should be admitted,” from 52% to 14% (p < .001), and that “patients with pneumonia have a>15% mortality rate,” from 11% to 5% (p < .007). The intervention did not significantly change general attitudes about practice guidelines. House officers rated the guideline as more helpful than attending physicians (p < .02).
CONCLUSIONS
This locally developed, actively implemented guideline was well regarded by physicians. Guidelines can change practice and also alter underlying knowledge and attitudes about disease management. They may be most useful to those with less experience.
doi:10.1046/j.1525-1497.1999.03469.x
PMCID: PMC1496765  PMID: 10571717
practice guidelines; physician attitudes; pneumonia; triage decisions; emergency department
21.  Effects of Two Commercial Electronic Prescribing Systems on Prescribing Error Rates in Hospital In-Patients: A Before and After Study 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(1):e1001164.
In a before-and-after study, Johanna Westbrook and colleagues evaluate the change in prescribing error rates after the introduction of two commercial electronic prescribing systems in two Australian hospitals.
Background
Considerable investments are being made in commercial electronic prescribing systems (e-prescribing) in many countries. Few studies have measured or evaluated their effectiveness at reducing prescribing error rates, and interactions between system design and errors are not well understood, despite increasing concerns regarding new errors associated with system use. This study evaluated the effectiveness of two commercial e-prescribing systems in reducing prescribing error rates and their propensities for introducing new types of error.
Methods and Results
We conducted a before and after study involving medication chart audit of 3,291 admissions (1,923 at baseline and 1,368 post e-prescribing system) at two Australian teaching hospitals. In Hospital A, the Cerner Millennium e-prescribing system was implemented on one ward, and three wards, which did not receive the e-prescribing system, acted as controls. In Hospital B, the iSoft MedChart system was implemented on two wards and we compared before and after error rates. Procedural (e.g., unclear and incomplete prescribing orders) and clinical (e.g., wrong dose, wrong drug) errors were identified. Prescribing error rates per admission and per 100 patient days; rates of serious errors (5-point severity scale, those ≥3 were categorised as serious) by hospital and study period; and rates and categories of postintervention “system-related” errors (where system functionality or design contributed to the error) were calculated. Use of an e-prescribing system was associated with a statistically significant reduction in error rates in all three intervention wards (respectively reductions of 66.1% [95% CI 53.9%–78.3%]; 57.5% [33.8%–81.2%]; and 60.5% [48.5%–72.4%]). The use of the system resulted in a decline in errors at Hospital A from 6.25 per admission (95% CI 5.23–7.28) to 2.12 (95% CI 1.71–2.54; p<0.0001) and at Hospital B from 3.62 (95% CI 3.30–3.93) to 1.46 (95% CI 1.20–1.73; p<0.0001). This decrease was driven by a large reduction in unclear, illegal, and incomplete orders. The Hospital A control wards experienced no significant change (respectively −12.8% [95% CI −41.1% to 15.5%]; −11.3% [−40.1% to 17.5%]; −20.1% [−52.2% to 12.4%]). There was limited change in clinical error rates, but serious errors decreased by 44% (0.25 per admission to 0.14; p = 0.0002) across the intervention wards compared to the control wards (17% reduction; 0.30–0.25; p = 0.40). Both hospitals experienced system-related errors (0.73 and 0.51 per admission), which accounted for 35% of postsystem errors in the intervention wards; each system was associated with different types of system-related errors.
Conclusions
Implementation of these commercial e-prescribing systems resulted in statistically significant reductions in prescribing error rates. Reductions in clinical errors were limited in the absence of substantial decision support, but a statistically significant decline in serious errors was observed. System-related errors require close attention as they are frequent, but are potentially remediable by system redesign and user training. Limitations included a lack of control wards at Hospital B and an inability to randomize wards to the intervention.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Medication errors—for example, prescribing the wrong drug or giving a drug by the wrong route—frequently occur in health care settings and are responsible for thousands of deaths every year. Until recently, medicines were prescribed and dispensed using systems based on hand-written scripts. In hospitals, for example, physicians wrote orders for medications directly onto a medication chart, which was then used by the nursing staff to give drugs to their patients. However, drugs are now increasingly being prescribed using electronic prescribing (e-prescribing) systems. With these systems, prescribers use a computer and order medications for their patients with the help of a drug information database and menu items, free text boxes, and prewritten orders for specific conditions (so-called passive decision support). The system reviews the patient's medication and known allergy list and alerts the physician to any potential problems, including drug interactions (active decision support). Then after the physician has responded to these alerts, the order is transmitted electronically to the pharmacy and/or the nursing staff who administer the prescription.
Why Was This Study Done?
By avoiding the need for physicians to write out prescriptions and by providing active and passive decision support, e-prescribing has the potential to reduce medication errors. But, even though many countries are investing in expensive commercial e-prescribing systems, few studies have evaluated the effects of these systems on prescribing error rates. Moreover, little is known about the interactions between system design and errors despite fears that e-prescribing might introduce new errors. In this study, the researchers analyze prescribing error rates in hospital in-patients before and after the implementation of two commercial e-prescribing systems.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers examined medication charts for procedural errors (unclear, incomplete, or illegal orders) and for clinical errors (for example, wrong drug or dose) at two Australian hospitals before and after the introduction of commercial e-prescribing systems. At Hospital A, the Cerner Millennium e-prescribing system was introduced on one ward; three other wards acted as controls. At Hospital B, the researchers compared the error rates on two wards before and after the introduction of the iSoft MedChart e-prescribing system. The introduction of an e-prescribing system was associated with a substantial reduction in error rates in the three intervention wards; error rates on the control wards did not change significantly during the study. At Hospital A, medication errors declined from 6.25 to 2.12 per admission after the introduction of e-prescribing whereas at Hospital B, they declined from 3.62 to 1.46 per admission. This reduction in error rates was mainly driven by a reduction in procedural error rates and there was only a limited change in overall clinical error rates. Notably, however, the rate of serious errors decreased across the intervention wards from 0.25 to 0.14 per admission (a 44% reduction), whereas the serious error rate only decreased by 17% in the control wards during the study. Finally, system-related errors (for example, selection of an inappropriate drug located on a drop-down menu next to a likely drug selection) accounted for 35% of errors in the intervention wards after the implementation of e-prescribing.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that the implementation of these two e-prescribing systems markedly reduced hospital in-patient prescribing error rates, mainly by reducing the number of incomplete, illegal, or unclear medication orders. The limited decision support built into both the e-prescribing systems used here may explain the limited reduction in clinical error rates but, importantly, both e-prescribing systems reduced serious medication errors. Finally, the high rate of system-related errors recorded in this study is worrying but is potentially remediable by system redesign and user training. Because this was a “real-world” study, it was not possible to choose the intervention wards randomly. Moreover, there was no control ward at Hospital B, and the wards included in the study had very different specialties. These and other aspects of the study design may limit the generalizability of these findings, which need to be confirmed and extended in additional studies. Even so, these findings provide persuasive evidence of the current and potential ability of commercial e-prescribing systems to reduce prescribing errors in hospital in-patients provided these systems are continually monitored and refined to improve their performance.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001164.
ClinfoWiki has pages on medication errors and on electronic prescribing (note: the Clinical Informatics Wiki is a free online resource that anyone can add to or edit)
Electronic prescribing in hospitals challenges and lessons learned describes the implementation of e-prescribing in UK hospitals; more information about e-prescribing in the UK is available on the NHS Connecting for Health Website
The Clinicians Guide to e-Prescribing provides up-to-date information about e-prescribing in the USA
Information about e-prescribing in Australia is also available
Information about electronic health records in Australia
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001164
PMCID: PMC3269428  PMID: 22303286
22.  Perception and attitude of general practitioners regarding generic medicines in Karachi, Pakistan: A questionnaire based study 
Southern Med Review  2012;5(1):22-30.
Objectives: In developing countries out-of-pocket payments (OOP) are as high as 80% of healthcare spending. Generic medicines can be instrumental in reducing this expenditure. The current study is aimed to explore the knowledge, perception, and attitude of general practitioners towards generic medicines in Karachi, Pakistan.
Methods: This exploratory, descriptive study was conducted on a sample of 289 randomly selected general practitioners who were dispensing at their private clinics in Karachi, Pakistan. The questionnaires were distributed and collected by hand. Data was entered to SPSS version 17. Fischer’s exact test was applied to see the association between variables.
Results: A total of 206 questionnaires were included in the study. A response rate of 71.3% was achieved. Out of 206 respondents, 139 (67.5%) were male while 67 (32.5%) respondents were female. Close to three quaters of the respondents (n= 148; 71.8%) showed correct knowledge about generic medicines being a ‘copy of the brand name medicines’ and ‘interchangeable with brand name medicines’ (n= 148; 71.8%). In terms of safety, the majority of respondents (n=85; 41.26%) incorrectly understood that the generic medicines are less safe than brand name medicines. The total percentage of correct responses was seen in 53% of the respondents. More than half of the respondents agreed that locally manufactured medicines are of the same effectiveness as brand name medicines (n=114; 55.4%). Male practitioners with practice experience of 11-15 years showed positive perception towards the quality of multinational products. The Majority of respondents believed that their prescribing decision is influenced by medical representatives (n=117; 56.8%). More than three-quarters of the respondents expressed their wish to prescribe low cost medicines in their practice (n=157; 76.2%). More than one third of the respondents expressed their uneasiness to prescribe products from all local manufacturers (n=72; 35%).
Conclusion: There were gaps identified in the knowledge of respondents. Although good perception and attitude were noted among the respondents, dissemination of information regarding generic medicines may perhaps strengthen generic prescribing. There is a need to introduce ‘Quality by Design’ concept in local manufacturing units. This, in turn, can inculcate confidence in prescribers towards locally manufactured generic medicines.
PMCID: PMC3471188  PMID: 23093896
generic medicines; general practitioner; dispensing doctor; perception; attitude; Karachi; Pakistan
23.  Public Beliefs on Antibiotics and Symptoms of Respiratory Tract Infections among Rural and Urban Population in Poland: A Questionnaire Study 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(10):e109248.
Introduction
General public views and expectations around the use of antibiotics can influence general practitioners' antibiotic prescribing decisions. We set out to describe the knowledge, attitudes and beliefs about the use of antibiotics for respiratory tract infections in adults in Poland, and explore differences according to where people live in an urban-rural continuum.
Material and Methods
Face to face survey among a stratified random sample of adults from the general population.
Results
1,210 adults completed the questionnaire (87% response rate); 44.3% were rural; 57.9% were women. 49.4% of rural respondents and 44.4% of urban respondents had used an antibiotic in the last 2 years. Rural participants were less likely to agree with the statement “usually I know when I need an antibiotic,” (53.5% vs. 61.3% respectively; p = 0.015) and reported that they would consult with a physician for a cough with yellow/green phlegm (69.2% vs. 74.9% respectively; p = 0.004), and were more likely to state that they would leave the decision about antibiotic prescribing to their doctor (87.5% vs. 85.6% respectively; p = 0.026). However, rural participants were more likely to believe that antibiotics accelerate recovery from sore throat (45.7% vs. 37.1% respectively; p = 0.017). Use of antibiotic in the last 2 years, level of education, number of children and awareness of the problem of developing antimicrobial resistance predicted accurate knowledge about antibiotic effectiveness.
Conclusions
There were no major differences in beliefs about antibiotics between urban and rural responders, although rural responders were slightly less confident in their knowledge about antibiotics and self-reported greater use of antibiotics. Despite differences in the level of education between rural and urban responders, there were no significant differences in their knowledge about antibiotic effectiveness.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0109248
PMCID: PMC4183578  PMID: 25275516
24.  Is There a Tension between Clinical Practice and Reimbursement Policy? The Case of Osteoarthritis Prescribing Practices in Ontario 
Healthcare Policy  2007;3(2):e128-e144.
Background:
Reimbursement policies, such as those used to manage the public drug program for senior citizens in Ontario, focus on providing access to cost-effective drug therapies. These policies may create a dilemma for physicians who want to prescribe a particular drug to a patient, but must factor reimbursement restrictions affecting patient-level access into the prescribing decision.
Methods:
Information was collected from 102 physicians about prescriptions given to osteoarthritis patients (n=2,147) aged 65 years or older. Patients' access to prescribed drugs was determined from their insurance coverage and the reimbursement criteria set out in the formulary of the public Ontario Drug Benefit Program (ODBP). Starting from the assumption that physicians would follow published consensus guidelines respecting gastroprotection when prescribing NSAIDs in these at-risk elderly patients, three groups of physicians were identified from the record of their actual prescriptions. Group A physicians (n=14) prescribed non-selective NSAIDs alone to >60% of their patients. Group B physicians (n=26) prescribed an NSAID + gastroprotective agent or a Cox-2 selective NSAID to >70% of their patients. Group C physicians (n=62) were those that fit into neither category. An open-ended question was included in the study questionnaire to elicit physicians' own interpretation of what impact drug coverage had on their prescribing behaviour.
Results:
No significant differences were found across groups with respect to years or type of practice, or to patient characteristics (LR=3.00, p>.2). Group C physicians were most likely to change their treatment choice in favour of restricted (limited use) drugs when patients met the criteria for reimbursement or had private insurance and therefore did not have to bear the additional cost out-of-pocket (LR=58.5; p<.0001).
Interpretation:
Most elderly at-risk patients are prescribed NSAIDs according to the prevailing guidelines. We found, however, that 40% of physicians have prescribing behaviour that favours non–evidence-based (Group A) or evidence-based (Group B) prescribing in this clinical setting irrespective of drug coverage. The remaining 60% of physicians appeared to be more responsive in their prescribing behaviour to financial constraints on patients' access to drugs. They also self-identified as most likely to change treatment if drug coverage had been different. These results have important implications for equity and quality of patient care. They also confirm that physicians' knowledge, values and self-efficacy are key determinants of prescribing behaviour and require further study to better understand how medical education and third-party policies and programs that govern pharmaceutical care are integrated into physicans' decision-making.
PMCID: PMC2645175  PMID: 19305773
25.  Distribution and characterization of ampicillin- and tetracycline-resistant Escherichia coli from feedlot cattle fed subtherapeutic antimicrobials 
BMC Microbiology  2011;11:78.
Background
Feedlot cattle in North America are routinely fed subtherapeutic levels of antimicrobials to prevent disease and improve the efficiency of growth. This practice has been shown to promote antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in subpopulations of intestinal microflora including Escherichia coli. To date, studies of AMR in feedlot production settings have rarely employed selective isolation, therefore yielding too few AMR isolates to enable characterization of the emergence and nature of AMR in E. coli as an indicator bacterium. E. coli isolates (n = 531) were recovered from 140 cattle that were housed (10 animals/pen) in 14 pens and received no dietary antimicrobials (control - 5 pens, CON), or were intermittently administered subtherapeutic levels of chlortetracycline (5 pens-T), chlortetracycline + sulfamethazine (4 pens-TS), or virginiamycin (5 pens-V) for two separate periods over a 9-month feeding period. Phenotype and genotype of the isolates were determined by susceptibility testing and pulsed field gel electrophoresis and distribution of characterized isolates among housed cattle reported. It was hypothesized that the feeding of subtherapeutic antibiotics would increase the isolation of distinct genotypes of AMR E. coli from cattle.
Results
Overall, patterns of antimicrobial resistance expressed by E. coli isolates did not change among diet groups (CON vs. antibiotic treatments), however; isolates obtained on selective plates (i.e., MA,MT), exhibited multi-resistance to sulfamethoxazole and chloramphenicol more frequently when obtained from TS-fed steers than from other treatments. Antibiograms and PFGE patterns suggested that AMR E. coli were readily transferred among steers within pens. Most MT isolates possessed the tet(B) efflux gene (58.2, 53.5, 40.8, and 50.6% of isolates from CON, T, TS, and V steers, respectively) whereas among the MA (ampicillin-resistant) isolates, the tem1-like determinant was predominant (occurring in 50, 66.7, 80.3, and 100% of isolates from CON, T, TS, and V steers, respectively).
Conclusions
Factors other than, or in addition to subtherapeutic administration of antibiotics influence the establishment and transmission of AMR E. coli among feedlot cattle.
doi:10.1186/1471-2180-11-78
PMCID: PMC3103423  PMID: 21504594

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