Antibiotic prescribing without documented indication in ambulatory care clinics: national cross sectional study

… According to the criteria, 57% (52% to 62%) of the 130.5 million prescriptions were for appropriate indications, 25% (21% to 29%) were inappropriate, and 18% (15% to 22%) had no documented indication. This corresponds to an estimated 24 million prescriptions without a documented indication. Being an adult male, spending more time with the provider, and seeing a non-primary care specialist were significantly positively associated with antibiotic prescribing without an indication. Sulfonamides and urinary anti-infective agents were the antibiotic classes most likely to be prescribed without documentation.

Conclusions This nationally representative study of ambulatory visits identified a large number of prescriptions for antibiotics without a documented indication. Antibiotic prescribing in the absence of a documented indication may severely bias national estimates of appropriate antibiotic use in this setting. This study identified a wide range of factors associated with antibiotic prescribing without a documented indication, which may be useful in directing initiatives aimed at supporting better documentation.

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