Duration of antibiotic treatment for common infections in English primary care: cross sectional analysis and comparison with guidelines

Pouwels, Koen B, Hopkins, Susan, Llewelyn, Martin J, Walker, Ann Sarah, McNulty, Cliodna A M and Robotham, Julie V (2019) Duration of antibiotic treatment for common infections in English primary care: cross sectional analysis and comparison with guidelines. BMJ (364). l440 1-9. ISSN 0959-8138

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Abstract

Objectives:
To evaluate antibiotic therapy durations for common infections in English primary care and to compare this with guidelines.

Design:
Cross-sectional study.

Setting:
General practices contributing to The Health Improvement Network database, 2013-2015.

Participants:
931,015 consultations that resulted in an antibiotic prescription for one of the following indications: acute sinusitis, acute sore throat, acute cough and bronchitis, pneumonia, acute exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), acute otitis media, acute cystitis, prostatitis, pyelonephritis, cellulitis, impetigo, scarlet fever and gastroenteritis.

Main outcome measures:
The main outcomes were the percentage of antibiotic prescriptions with a duration exceeding the guideline recommendation and the total number of days beyond the recommended duration for each indication.

Results:
The most common reasons for the prescriptions were patients consulting with acute bronchitis and cough (386,972), acute sore throat (239,231), acute otitis media (83,054), and acute sinusitis (76,683). Antibiotic treatments for upper respiratory indications and acute bronchitis accounted for more than two thirds of the total prescriptions considered, and ≥80% of these treatment courses exceeded guideline recommendations. Notable exceptions were acute sinusitis, where only 9.6% (95% CI 9.4 to 9.9%) of prescriptions exceeded 7 days and acute sore throat where only 2.1% (95% CI 2.0 to 2.1) exceed 10 days (recent guidance recommends 5 days). More than half of antibiotic prescriptions were longer than guidelines recommend for acute cystitis among females (54.6%, 95% CI 54.1 to 55.0%). The percentage of antibiotic prescriptions exceeding the recommended duration was lower for most non-respiratory infections. For the 931,015 included consultations resulting in antibiotic prescriptions, approximately 1.3 million days were beyond the durations recommended by the guidelines.

Conclusion:
For most common infections treated in primary care, a substantial proportion of antibiotic prescriptions have durations exceeding those recommended in guidelines. Substantial reductions in antibiotic exposure can be accomplished by aligning antibiotic prescription durations with guidelines.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: Brighton and Sussex Medical School > Global Health and Infection
Subjects: R Medicine
Depositing User: Deborah Miller
Date Deposited: 06 Mar 2019 09:38
Last Modified: 06 Mar 2019 09:38
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/82316

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