Background Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR), a major global public health threat causing 1.2 million deaths, calls for immediate action. Antimicrobial stewardship (AMS) promotes judicious antibiotic use, but the COVID-19 pandemic increased AMR by 15%. Our study evaluated AMS implementation and inappropriate antibiotic prescribing before-the-pandemic (PD) and during-the-pandemic (DP). Methods This retrospective study examined medical records of adult patients (age 25 and above) admitted to an NHS Foundation Trust in England for respiratory tract infections (RTIs) or pneumonia in 2019 and 2020. Our objective was to evaluate antibiotic prescribing practices BP and DP in 2019 and 2020. Primary outcomes included evaluating the prevalence of inappropriate antibiotic prescribing and assessing the implementation of AMS using Public Health England's 'Start Smart, Then Focus' (SSTF) toolkit. Reliable data extraction was ensured by two independent reviewers using a validated data extraction tool. Results A total of 640 patient records (320 from 2019 and 320 from 2020) were analysed. The mean age of enrolled adults was 74.3 years in 2019 and 76.2 years in 2020. COVID pneumonia showed a significantly higher odds ratio (OR) of 20.24 (95% CI 5.82 to 128.19, p-value<0.001). Inappropriate antibiotic prescribing, as per local guidelines, increased from 36% in 2019 to 64% in 2020 for the second course of antibiotics DP. Differences were observed in AMS interventions, with an OR of 3.36 (95% CI 1.30-9.25, p=0.015) for 'Continue Antibiotics' and an OR of 2.77 (95% CI 1.37-5.70, p=0.005) for 'De-escalation'. Conclusion The COVID-19 pandemic significantly impacted antibiotic prescribing, increasing inappropriate use and posing risks of antimicrobial resistance. Factors influencing prescribing practices must be considered, and proactive measures, including updating the SSTF toolkit and developing an AMS roadmap, are needed to address the challenges of AMR in the context of evolving infectious diseases.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jun 2023


  • Start smart then focus
  • Antibiotic guardian
  • Antibiotic Prescribing
  • antibiotic resistance
  • Antibiotic research
  • Antibiotic safety
  • Antibiotics
  • antimicrobial
  • antimicrobial agents
  • antimicrobial efficacy
  • antimicrobial resistance
  • antimicrobial resistance (AMR)
  • Antimicrobial stewardship
  • Antimicrobial stewardship competencies
  • Antimicrobial stewardship programs
  • Antimicrobials
  • Antimicrobial Stewardship/methods
  • Public health
  • Public Health
  • public involvement
  • Global Health
  • NHS England
  • Public Health England
  • quality improvement


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