These doctors overprescribe antibiotics

Older doctors, those with a high patient load and immigrants are most prone to prescribing antibiotics for acute URTIs, including the common cold.

At least, that’s according to US and Canadian researchers who have analysed data on 9000 doctors, as well as 185,000 older patients — 46% of whom have been prescribed antibiotics for conditions including nasopharyngitis, bronchitis, sinusitis and laryngitis.

Writing in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the authors note that most of the prescriptions are for broad-spectrum agents (69%), including macrolides, cephalosporins, and fluoroquinolones, which are not recommended as first-line antimicrobial therapy for most respiratory infections.

And the majority of these are prescribed by late-career doctors rather than younger ones, they say.

The researchers also note that doctors trained outside Canada or the US are more inclined to overprescribe antibiotics, as are those seeing more than 25 patients a day.

In an accompanying editorial, the authors bemoan the “unacceptably high proportion of patients with viral respiratory infections” that still receive antibiotics.

You can access the study here and the editorial here.