CDC Study: Opportunities to Improve Antibiotic Prescribing in All Outpatient Settings

The Journal of the American Medical Association: Internal Medicine has released a new study which shows that healthcare professionals in all outpatient settings unnecessarily prescribed antibiotics for respiratory illnesses like the common cold and bronchitis. According to the study, antibiotics were prescribed unnecessarily in 46% of urgent care center visits, 25% of emergency department visits, 17% of medical office visits and 14% of retail health clinic visits.

Because the new study contains new data about unnecessary antibiotic prescribing in urgent care centers and retail health clinics, unnecessary antibiotic prescribing nationally in all outpatient settings may be higher than the estimated 30% reported in a 2016 study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association.

One important way to support improvement is by sharing success stories like that of Christiana Care Health System. In a post in CDC’s Safe Healthcare Blog, Dr. Harold Kramer explains how the system’s five Medical Aid Units were able to achieve a 39 percent decrease in antibiotic prescribing in the first year of establishing an antibiotic stewardship program.

CDC is dedicated to supporting its partners in all healthcare settings and is actively collaborating with organizations, such as The Pew Charitable Trusts and the Urgent Care Association and the Antibiotic Resistance Action Center (ARAC; at George Washington University’s Milken School of Public Health), to identify successes, challenges, and opportunities for improvement in antibiotic use. CDC’s Be Antibiotics Aware campaign comprises a complete suite of print and digital materials to educate both patients and healthcare providers. We also offer an online antibiotic stewardship course which can be used for CMS/MIPS credit and offers free CE to healthcare professionals – including doctors, nurses, pharmacists, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and public health professionals with a MPH.

About Kim Rodgers

Kim Rodgers serves as a Communications Specialist at NACCHO. Her work includes promoting local health departments' best practices, as well as partner tools and resources, in infectious disease and preparedness through NACCHO's communications channels, storytelling, and outreach to various audiences.

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