Physicians prescribe wrong antibiotic half of the time

Patients treated for ear infections, sore throats and sinus infections are prescribed the incorrect antibiotic nearly 50 percent of the time, according a new research letter published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

The new findings build on previous research published in May, which found 30 percent of outpatient, oral antibiotic prescriptions may be prescribed unnecessarily.

In accordance with the previous study, researchers examined 2010-2011 data from the National Ambulatory Medical Care and National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care surveys to assess antibiotic prescribing practices involving more than 5,000 patients.

Analysis revealed appropriate antibiotics were prescribed least frequently for adults with a sinus infection and a sore throat at a rate of 37 percent. Pediatric ear infection patients received the highest rate of appropriate antibiotics at 67 percent. Collectively, patients were prescribed the correct antibiotic 52 percent of the time.

"These findings indicate that the problem of inappropriate antibiotic prescribing includes not only prescriptions that are unnecessary altogether, but also selection of inappropriate agents. As a result, stewardship interventions should address both antibiotic overuse and inappropriate antibiotic selection to improve patient safety and healthcare quality," concluded the authors.

More articles on quality: 
FDA: Hospitals underreport device-related injuries and deaths 
Pediatricians update guidelines on infant sleep 
CMS put Allina hospital in 'immediate jeopardy' for drug error during nurses' strike

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