Study: Nearly Half of Urgent Care Antibiotic Prescriptions for Respiratory Illnesses are Unnecessary

July 18, 2018 | Risk Management News

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​Healthcare professionals in outpatient settings often unnecessarily prescribe antibiotics for respiratory illnesses such as the common cold and bronchitis, according to a July 16, 2018, research letter in JAMA Internal Medicine. The authors conducted a retrospective cohort study using a national database that captures claims data on individuals younger than 65 with employer-sponsored insurance. They focused on diagnoses for which antibiotics are unnecessary based on clinical practice guidelines: viral upper respiratory infection, bronchitis/bronchiolitis, asthma/allergy, influenza, nonsuppurative otitis media, and viral pneumonia. Urgent care centers were the most frequent setting for inappropriate prescribing, with 45.7% of prescriptions written for a diagnosis that does not require antibiotics.

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