, Volume 71, Issue 6, pp 745–755 | Cite as

European Surveillance of Antimicrobial Consumption (ESAC)

Value of a Point-Prevalence Survey of Antimicrobial Use Across Europe
Current Opinion


All 27 EU member states and another seven countries participate in the European Surveillance of Antimicrobial Consumption (ESAC) project. ESAC carried out three hospital point-prevalence surveys on antimicrobial use. Point-prevalence surveys linked antimicrobial use to indication and also assessed dosing using a standardized methodology for data collection and online data submission with feedback capability using a dedicated web-based tool. The objectives of the ESAC hospital point-prevalence surveys were to first determine the feasibility of a pan-European survey and identify targets for quality improvement.

Hospitals were voluntarily selected by the lead national or hospital representatives for each country. The WHO Anatomical Therapeutic Chemical Classification of drugs was used for classification of antimicrobials. The three surveys were carried out during a maximum of 2 weeks in the second quarter of 2006, 2008 and 2009. Each department had to be surveyed in 1 day. All systemic antibacterials (J01), rifampicin (J04AB), oral vancomycin (A07AA) and oral/rectal metronidazole (P01AB) were the antimicrobials surveyed, including the prescribed regimen.

The number of participating hospitals increased from 20 to 172 from 2006 to 2009. The patient demographics and indications for treatment were similar throughout the three point-prevalence surveys. ‘Reason in notes’ and ‘surgical prophylaxis >24 hours’ were also similar. Guideline compliance (51%) was only introduced in the 2009 point-prevalence survey, replacing ‘sample for culture and sensitivity’ (<50% in 2006 and 2008) since samples were either not taken or no information was available for the majority (>50%) of patients. The use of combination therapy, although exhibiting a wide range within each category, was related to hospital type, with teaching and tertiary hospitals having a significantly higher use of combination therapy (teaching: non-teaching hospitals [p < 0.0001]; and primary: tertiary hospitals [p < 0.0001]).

Point-prevalence surveys are useful when time and resources do not allow for continuous surveillance. Repeated point-prevalence surveys within the same institution(s) can be used to monitor trends and effectiveness of antimicrobial-stewardship initiatives. Targets should be set as quality indicators for the individual hospital(s) and effectiveness of any intervention monitored through repeated point-prevalence surveys. Spin-off initiatives, such as the Antibiotic Resistance and Prescribing in European Children, and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control point-prevalence survey on healthcare-associated infections and antimicrobial use, will utilize adapted versions of WebPPS, the point-prevalence survey software developed by ESAC. WebPPS will also be made available for non-commercial use to third parties. Interest has been shown from three continents outside Europe, namely North America, Australia and Africa.


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Copyright information

© Adis Data Information BV 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Infection Control UnitMater Dei HospitalMsidaMalta
  2. 2.Laboratory of Medical Microbiology, Vaccine and Infectious Diseases InstituteUniversiteit Antwerpen-Campus Drie EikenAntwerpenBelgium

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