85% of clinicians say they are guilty of defensive behavior in antibiotic prescribing

A vast majority of infectious diseases and clinical microbiology specialists admit to practicing defensive medicine with regard to prescribing antibiotics, according to a study published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy.

Researchers conducted an international cross-sectional internet-based survey, polling 833 infectious diseases and clinical microbiology specialists from 74 countries. The survey explored three variables: fear of legal liability in antibiotic prescribing/advising on antibiotic prescription; defensive behaviors in antibiotic prescribing; and defensive behaviors in advising.

Here are five study findings.

1. Only 0.4 percent of respondents condemned malpractice related to antibiotic prescription.

2. Around 21 percent of respondents said they never worried about legal liability in antibiotic prescribing while 45.1 percent sometimes worried and 28.6 percent frequently worried.

3. The following three characteristics were independently associated with fear of legal liability:

• Being female
• Being younger than 35 or 35 years old
• Being aware of previous cases of litigation

4. Eighty-five percent of survey respondents reported some defensive behavior in antibiotic prescribing.

5. Around 76 percent reported defensive behaviors in advising on antibiotic prescription.

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