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A new digital guide developed by Johns Hopkins University gives physicians a point-of-care decision-making support system for antibiotics and infectious diseases. The information is free and is available on the Internet. It can be used with Microsoft-based personal digital assistants.
The Antibiotic Guide (ABX Guide) offers information on more than 160 drugs and more than 140 diseases treated by specialists and primary care physicians. The guide was developed by experts who continually make updates to reflect changes in the field, according to John G. Bartlett, MD, chief of the division of infectious diseases at the Baltimore-based medical center.
"We believe this guide and the technology on which it is based will rapidly advance evidence-based and outcomes-based medical care and enrich medical education while addressing key concerns such as medication errors, delays in the incorporation of new developments into practice, and antibiotic resistance," Bartlett says.
With the guide, instead of using outdated and voluminous paper versions of drug references, physicians can carry an electronic version that puts the essential information at their fingertips. Physicians have to cope with more than 1,500 treatment guidelines issued by government agencies and medical organizations in an effort to standardize best practices, Bartlett points out.
"The guide isn’t designed to take the place of the physician’s own experience or judgment. The goal is to help physicians plan treatments by making the most current information available at the point of care in the doctor’s office or hospital," adds Walter Atha, MD, director of the project.
One of the biggest problems doctors face is trying to keep up with all the information on antibiotic use that is published in weekly and monthly medical journals, Atha adds. "New research may find that some drugs aren’t effective any more against certain bacteria or that certain combinations of drugs shouldn’t be used. That’s why antibiotic guides are one of the most important types of reference a doctor uses," he says.
The infectious disease experts who use the ABX guide can update the information in the guide at any time by accessing the Internet. The guide will include emergency alerts, such as FDA recalls, giving physicians up-to-the minute access as soon as they update their database. The ABX Guide is the first in a series of easily navigated, regularly updated digital medical specialty handbooks from Hopkins experts. The next guide will cover treatment of HIV/ AIDS.
For more information and a copy of the guide, log onto hopkins-abxguide.org.