Antibiotics: are they necessary?

With antibiotic overuse driving the rise of antibiotic-resistant infections, authors of a large study find that during 2010 to 2011, antibiotics were prescribed for outpatients across all conditions at a rate of 506 per 1000 population. Only an estimated 353 of these, however, were likely appropriate, suggesting that 30% of these antibiotics may have been unnecessary.

These findings, published in the May 3 issue of JAMA, highlight the need to set a new goal for antibiotic stewardship in the ambulatory setting, according to Katherine E. Fleming-Dutra, MD, a pediatrician with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia, and colleagues.

Although the National Action Plan for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria aims to halve the rate of inappropriate outpatient antibiotic use by 2020, figures on the actual extent of misuse have been lacking. The new study aimed to fill this gap by estimating the rates of outpatient oral antibiotic prescribing by age and diagnosis and the proportion that may be inappropriate in US adults and children. To read more, click here.