Physician Practice

Study finds 30% of antibiotic prescriptions not necessary

Physician Practice Insider, October 18, 2016

A new study has found that 30% of antibiotic prescriptions written were unnecessary to the condition they were treating, adding to a body of evidence that physicians routinely prescribe antibiotics to patients who don’t need them.

The study, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Pew Charitable Trusts, was published in the May 3 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. The authors suggested that the over-prescribing of antibiotics is responsible in part for antibiotic-resistant infections that result in nearly 23,000 deaths each year.

“Antibiotics are life-saving medicines, and if we continue down the road of inappropriate use, we’ll lose one of the most powerful tools we have to fight life-threatening infections,” said CDC director Tom Frieden in a statement. “Losing these antibiotics would undermine our ability to treat patients with deadly infections, cancer, provide organ transplants, and save victims of burns and trauma.”

The study used data from the 2010–2011 National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey and the 2010–2011 National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, which tracked patient visits to physicians and emergency departments. It found that 12.6% of physician visits resulted in an antibiotic prescription being written and that 47 million of the 154 million antibiotic prescriptions written during that time period were deemed to be unnecessary. The guidelines for what was considered necessary were determined by existing national standards.

This article was originally published in Physician Practice Perspectives. Subscribers can read the full article in the August 2016 issue.

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