One in Five Antibiotic Prescriptions Written with Uncertain Necessity

July 11, 2014 | Strategic Insights for Ambulatory Care


​More than one in five prescriptions for antibiotics are written by physicians, nurse practitioners, or physician assistants who are not "absolutely certain" the antibiotics are necessary, according to a survey of nearly 800 prescribers conducted by Medscape and WebMD. Some of the reasons cited for prescribing antibiotics in the absence of certainty about their necessity included feeling uncomfortable not treating a possible bacterial infection (42%), responding to patient request (28%), being concerned about medical malpractice risk (15%), and believing that the antibiotic could not hurt the patient and may help (11%). The survey also asked patients about whether they had asked for antibiotics, finding that 23% of the 1,174 respondents had done so.

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