The population in the industrialised world is ageing; this brings an increase in the nursing home population.
In a 175-bed Norwegian nursing home a retrospective analysis was done by a manual search of all patient records for the year 1998, to establish the use of all systemic antibiotics that year.
Out of 223 residents, 111 (50%) received 239 antibiotic treatments during the year. An average of 4.5% of the residents received antibiotics at any one time. Urinary tract infections accounted for 50% of antibiotics use followed by lower respiratory tract infections (27%) and skin and soft-tissue infections (11%). Trimethoprim and penicillin V accounted for 56% of the antibiotics used.
The choice of antibiotics was by and large in accordance with national guidelines for use of antibiotics in primary care. There is a need for further studies in order to develop consensus criteria for rational use of antibiotics in nursing homes.