VA study shows antibiotic overprescribing is rule, not exception

New findings from a study of antibiotic use by the Veterans Administration health care system in Pittsburgh indicates that three-quarters of all antibiotic prescriptions were either not indicated or were used for an amount of time that was not recommended.

New findings from a study of antibiotic use by the Veterans Administration health care system in Pittsburgh indicates that three-quarters of all antibiotic prescriptions were either not indicated or were used for an amount of time that was not recommended. The year-long study examined the prescribing information, medical records, and charts of more than 40,000 patients who were written 3,880 acute antibiotic prescriptions by 76 primary care physicians. According to the researchers, antibiotics were not indicated in 49.7% of cases in which they were written, while in 12.3% of cases, the antibiotic was indicated but the prescribed agent was guideline discordant. Another 14% of the cases had an antibiotic prescribed for too long. Overall, ciprofloxacin and azithromycin were the antibiotics most likely to be incorrectly prescribed, and azithromycin was prescribed most often. The findings are published in <i>Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy</i>.