Physician education program cuts pediatric antibiotic prescribing, study finds

An online physician education program may help reduce unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions in pediatric offices, a study published in Pediatrics found.

The study involved 19 pediatric practices affiliated with Evanston, Ill.-based NorthShore University HealthSystem or the American Academy of Pediatrics' practice-based research network. The physicians participated in an online program on antibiotic prescribing and communication best practices. They also received individual feedback on their prescribing habits for 11 months.

Researchers tracked antibiotic prescribing rates from 72,723 visits for acute respiratory tract infections involving 29,762 patients between November 2015 and June 2018. The probability of pediatricians prescribing antibiotics for such infections fell 7 percent during the study period. Antibiotic prescriptions also fell for strep throat and sinusitis.

Past research shows about one-third of antibiotic prescriptions for pediatric respiratory infections are inappropriate. The researchers said broad dissemination of this educational program may help reduce unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions in outpatient settings.

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