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Over 20 years ago a number of microbiologists were concerned about antibiotic use in my home city of Melbourne, Australia. But we had a problem; if we walked up to the beds of our clinical colleagues and criticized their drug treatment charts they would get angry and say, "Who are you to tell me what to do?"

The solution was to bring together a group of microbiologists, physicians and pharmacists from a number of University Teaching Hospitals, lock them up in a small room with journals and MEDLINE printouts, and not let them out until they had come up with recommendations on the treatment of choice for common infections.

 And because drugs changed and germs changed and knowledge changed it was important to update this booklet at regular intervals. And as time passed, the recommendations were endorsed by one State Health Department, then by several, and ultimately it became a national project with a team of authors drawn from experts across the nation.

 Antibiotic use could now be judged against national standards of best practice.