Dentist-prescribed antibiotics linked to rising C. diff rates

Inappropriate antibiotic prescribing practices among dentists may be contributing to rising rates of Clostridium difficile infections, according to a study conducted by the Minnesota Department of Health and presented Oct. 5 at ID Week 2017 in San Diego.

The study expands upon previous research conducted by the MDH that found 36 percent of dentists prescribed antibiotics in situations where the use of the medications is no longer recommended by the American Dental Association.

For the study, MDH researchers interviewed 1,626 people with community-associated C. diff in five Minnesota counties from 2009 through 2015. Fifty-seven percent of individuals were prescribed antibiotics prior to contracting the infection, and 15 percent received the prescriptions after dental procedures.

Those prescribed antibiotics after dental procedures were more likely to be elderly and prescribed clindamycin, an antibiotic associated with C. diff infections. Additionally, 34 percent of those prescribed antibiotics by dentists had no mention of the medications in their medical charts.

"Research has shown that reducing outpatient antibiotic prescribing by 10 percent could decrease C. diff rates outside of hospitals by 17 percent," said lead author Dr. Stacy Holzbauer, a career epidemiology field officer for the CDC and MDH. "Limiting the use of inappropriate antibiotics in dentistry could also have a profound impact."

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