In EDs, children receive close to 7M antibiotic prescriptions every year

A study published in Pediatrics examined antibiotic prescribing for children in U.S. emergency departments.

Researchers conducted a cross-sectional retrospective study of patients, up to 17 years of age, discharged from EDs, both pediatric and nonpediatric. Pediatric EDs were defined as facilities where more than percent of visits were by patients younger than 17 years. Researchers used 2009-14 National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey ED data.

Between 2009 and 2014, there were 29 million mean annual ED visits by children, of which 14 percent occurred at pediatric EDs. Children receive almost 7 million antibiotic prescriptions in EDs annually.

Researchers found antibiotics were prescribed more frequently in nonpediatric than pediatric ED visits overall — 24 percent and 20 percent, respectively. Additionally, 44 percent of all antibiotics prescribed were broad spectrum.

"Pediatric antibiotic stewardship efforts should expand to nonpediatric EDs nationwide, particularly regarding avoidance of antibiotic prescribing for conditions for which antibiotics are not indicated, reducing macrolide prescriptions, and increasing first-line, guideline-concordant prescribing," study authors concluded.

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