Physician competition, patient wealth and prescribing antibiotics: 5 things to know

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Social and economic factors, as well as competition among physician's offices and retail clinics, contribute to the overuse of antibiotics in the United States, according to new research published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy.

Researchers analyzed data from the U.S. Census Bureau and a prescriptions database to track the prescribing of antibiotics for the years 2000 and 2010.

Highlighted below are five findings from the study:

  • A larger number of physician's offices, retail medical clinics and urgent care facilities per capita in wealthy areas is tied to an increase in the number of antibiotic prescriptions written per person.
  • Antibiotic prescription rates are particularly high in wealthy areas where providers are trying to satisfy and retain patients who could otherwise shop for providers more willing to write prescriptions.
  • Antibiotic prescriptions rates were highest in the southeastern U.S. and along the West and East coasts.
  • Prescription rates were particularly high in Manhattan, southern Miami and Encino, Calif.
  • In less affluent areas, the presence of retail or urgent care clinics increased access to care but did not generate competition that drive higher rates or antibiotic prescription.

According to lead author of the study Eili Klein, PhD, the findings emphasize the business nature of healthcare and the pressures physicians face to prescribe antibiotics.

Dr. Klein noted estimates that suggest it takes five minutes for a physician to see a patient and prescribe an antibiotic, whereas it takes 15 minutes to explain to a patient why they don't need an antibiotic.

 

 

More articles on antibiotics:
How rivers contribute to rising antibiotic resistance
Antibiotics overprescribed in 45% of patients in outpatient settings
5 findings on antimicrobial stewardship policies in US hospitals

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