Study shows some are more likely than others to get unneeded antibiotics


Antibiotic resistance is quickly becoming one of the world’s most pressing health problems, and the misuse and overuse of antibiotics are key factors contributing to the problem. And new research has found certain people have a higher risk for being prescribed antibiotics they don’t actually need.

White adults and children, along with people with private insurance and occupied urban areas, are more likely to receive a prescription for an antibiotic for common conditions caused by viruses, the researchers said.  And according to Dr. Mosquera, antibiotics only work against bacterial infections, not viruses….

To reduce the misuse of antibiotics we need to identify the patterns of overprescribing

“Recognizing the factors that impact the prescribing process is integral to figuring out how to reduce the misuse of antibiotics on a large scale.” says Dr. Mosquera.

This study’s findings reveal that there are patterns to prescribing antibiotics, and routinely prescribing unneeded antibiotics can be linked to various patient, practice and provider characteristics.

The various patterns researchers found in the overprescribing of antibiotics

In the study, the researchers combed through data from more than 281,000 adults and children in North Carolina who were seen for four common conditions that do not routinely require antibiotics: viral upper respiratory infection, bronchitis, sinusitis and uninfected fluid in the middle ear. Other patterns identified by researchers includes the following:

  • Nurse practitioners and physician assistants were 15 percent more likely than a doctor to prescribe an antibiotic to adults with these four conditions
  • Whoever was responsible doing the prescribing also influenced whether antibiotics were given to a patient or not.
  • Of the four conditions that do not requite antibiotics routinely, acute bronchitis had highest number of antibiotic prescriptions.
  • Older health care providers were found to be more likely to prescribe antibiotics than younger providers
  • Family medicine practices had the highest rate of antibiotic prescribing
  • pediatric practices had the lowest rate of antibiotic prescribing

“By undertaking this research, we can help ensure that our local patients receive the most appropriate, safe care, and are not inappropriately prescribed antibiotics,” author of the studyDr. Lisa Davidson penned in a journal news release.

The findings on who gets unneeded antibiotics most often was published this spring in the journal Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology.

More Information

If you looking for more information, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website to learn more about the misuse of antibiotics.

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