Nearly half of the antibiotics prescribed in the USA may be unnecessary in ambulatory care clinics
According to the World Health Organization antibiotic resistance is one of the greatest threats to mankind. Inappropriate prescribing and use of antibiotics contributes to antibiotic resistance.
Researchers from Oregon State University looked at survey data on more than 990 million ambulatory care visits to office-based healthcare providers in 2015. During those visits,130 million antibiotic prescriptions were given out. Researchers found that only 57% of these prescriptions were for a bacterial infection or other condition that require antibiotic treatment. However, a quarter of the prescriptions were deemed inappropriate because they were written for conditions like upper respiratory infection, for which antibiotics aren't indicated but are commonly prescribed. 18% of the prescriptions lacked documentation, whether they had an appropriate or inappropriate indication. This corresponds toroughly 24 million antibiotic prescriptions without a documented indication in 2015. When combined with 32 million confirmed inappropriate prescriptions, about half of the prescriptions were found potentially unnecessary.
Study findings demonstrate that indications for antibiotic prescribing are not always properly documented, which can lead to an underestimation of the true burden of unnecessary antibiotic use in an ambulatory care setting.