Letting physicians see antibiotic prescribing rates of peers led to reduction in prescriptions, study shows

An intervention that included comparing physicians' antibiotic prescribing patterns helped reduce antibiotic prescriptions by nearly 36 percent, according to a study published in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy.

Researchers examined antibiotic prescribing patterns of primary care physicians at seven Veterans Affairs clinics. They implemented an intervention that included offering 73 primary care physicians an education session, followed by monthly emails with their antibiotic prescribing rate, the prescribing rates of their peers and a target rate. Fifty physicians participated in the education sessions and received the emails.

Researchers compared prescribing rates from January 2017 to July 2017, after the intervention was put into place, to a period before the intervention, January 2016 to June 2016.

They found that the average monthly antibiotic prescriptions declined from 76.9 per 1,000 office visits in the 2016 period to 49.5 per 1,000 office visits in the 2017 period, a 35.6 percent reduction.

They also found that unnecessary antibiotic prescribing declined from 58.8 percent in 2016 to 38.9 percent in 2017, and appropriate antibiotic prescribing increased by 50.8 percent from the period before the intervention was implemented compared to the period after.

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