Reuters Health (08/06/12) Pittman, Genevra
A new study suggests that using electronic health records to tell doctors what infections are going around in their community could help cut down on unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions. This is important because the more often antibiotics are used, the more likely bugs will become resistant to the drugs and harder to treat the next time around. Doctors often prescribe antibiotics when it is not clear whether or not a bacterial infection is really behind a person's fever, runny nose and cough, oftentimes treating with an antibiotic when it is not necessary. According to the study's findings, on average, the doctors surveyed prescribed an antibiotic for patients complaining of a fever and cough or cold symptoms 45 percent of the time. Additionally, the rate of antibiotic prescribing varied widely by doctor, with individuals giving out antibiotics anywhere from 18 percent to 84 percent of the time.