Describing the antimicrobial usage patterns of companion animal veterinary practices; free text analysis of more than 4.4 million consultation records

Hur BA, Hardefeldt LY, Verspoor KM, Baldwin T, Gilkerson JR

Antimicrobial Resistance is a global crisis that veterinarians contribute to through their use of antimicrobials in animals. Antimicrobial stewardship has been shown to be an effective means to reduce antimicrobial resistance in hospital environments. Effective monitoring of antimicrobial usage patterns is an essential part of antimicrobial stewardship and is critical in reducing the development of antimicrobial resistance. The aim of this study is to describe how frequently antimicrobials were used in veterinary consultations and identify the most frequently used antimicrobials. Using VetCompass Australia, Natural Language Processing techniques, and the Australian Strategic Technical Advisory Group’s (ASTAG) Rating system to classify the importance of antimicrobials, descriptive analysis was performed on the antimicrobials prescribed in consultations from 137 companion animal veterinary clinics in Australia between 2013 and 2017 (inclusive). Of the 4,400,519 consultations downloaded there were 595,089 consultations where antimicrobials were prescribed to dogs or cats. Antimicrobials were dispensed in 145 of every 1000 canine consultations; and 38 per 1000 consultations involved high importance rated antimicrobials. Similarly with cats, 108 per 1000 consultations had antimicrobials dispensed, and in 47 per 1000 consultations an antimicrobial of high importance rating was administered. The most common antimicrobials given to cats and dogs were cefovecin and amoxycillin clavulanate, respectively. The most common topical antimicrobial and high-rated topical antimicrobial given to dogs and cats was polymyxin B. This study provides a descriptive analysis of the antimicrobial usage patterns in Australia using methods that can be automated to inform antimicrobial use surveillance programs and promote antimicrobial stewardship.


Hur BA, Hardefeldt LY, Verspoor KM, Baldwin T, Gilkerson JR (2020) Describing the antimicrobial usage patterns of companion animal veterinary practices; free text analysis of more than 4.4 million consultation records. PLoS ONE 15(3): e0230049.