Simple "Nudges" Work to Improve Antibiotic Prescription

Reminding clinicians of their obligation to prescribe appropriately may be effective in reducing inappropriate use of antibiotics, according to research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Researchers created behavioral "nudges" for clinicians, displaying poster-sized, signed clinician pledges to avoid inappropriate antibiotic prescription in examination rooms for 12 weeks. During that time, 945 adult patients had appointments in those rooms for acute respiratory infection, a condition for which antibiotics are often overprescribed.

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Before the study, rates of incorrect antibiotic prescription for both control and study rooms hovered around 43 percent. After the implementation of the posters, inappropriate prescription of antibiotics for ARIs fell to 33.7 percent in study rooms. In the control rooms, incorrect antibiotic prescription for ARIs rose to nearly 53 percent.

Researchers concluded a simple, low-cost intervention such as the poster tactic could have high levels of effectiveness in improving antimicrobial stewardship.

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