Too Many People Still Take Unneeded Antibiotics

1 in 3 prescriptions was unnecessary

Nearly one-third of the antibiotics prescribed in the United States aren’t appropriate for the conditions being treated, a new federal government study shows.

“We were able to conclude that at least 30 percent of the antibiotics that are given in doctors’ offices, emergency departments and hospital-based clinics are unnecessary, meaning that no antibiotics were needed at all,” said lead researcher Dr. Katherine Fleming-Dutra.

Such misuse has helped fuel the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which infect 2 million Americans and kill 23,000 every year, said Fleming-Dutra, a pediatrician and epidemiologist at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Antibiotics are most misused in the treatment of short-term respiratory conditions, such as colds, bronchitis, sore throats, and sinus and ear infections, the researchers reported.

“About half of antibiotic prescriptions for acute respiratory conditions were unnecessary,” Fleming-Dutra said.

In this study, Fleming-Dutra and her colleagues analyzed more than 184,000 outpatient visits reported in a 2010-2011 national medical care survey. Of those sampled visits, nearly 13 percent resulted in antibiotic prescriptions.

About 262 million outpatient antibiotic prescriptions were dispensed in 2011 in the United States, but until now no one knew how many of those prescriptions were inappropriate, she said.

To assess misuse of antibiotics, the researchers relied on national treatment guidelines to look for conditions that should never be treated using antibiotics, such as the common cold, sore throats caused by viral infections and bronchitis.

“Nobody should be giving antibiotics for the common cold,” Fleming-Dutra said. “It gets better without antibiotics.”

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SOURCE: WebMD News from HealthDay
Dennis Thompson