June 19, 2024

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Over 70% of doctors still prescribing unsafe antibiotics

Over 70% of doctors still prescribing unsafe antibiotics


Over 70% of doctors still prescribing unsafe antibiotics.

A study of primary care physicians found that, based on a single positive urine sample, an estimated 70 percent would still recommend antibiotics for asymptomatic infections.

The study was recently published in JAMA Network Open, despite longstanding medical standards that advise against the practice.

Researchers from the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) directed the study.


Since 2005, the Medical Association has opposed the regular use of antibiotics in people who have bacteria found in urine cultures but no signs of urinary tract infections (UTIs), such as a burning sensation or frequent urination.

There is overwhelming evidence that these drugs are ineffective in asymptomatic patients and instead cause side effects such as diarrhea, vomiting, rashes and yeast infections. In rare cases, antibiotics can even cause death due to an excess of the harmful bacteria Clostridium difficile in the colon.

The overuse of these drugs has also led to an increase in bacterial infections that are difficult to treat and sometimes fatal due to their resistance to antibiotics.


For the study, 723 primary care professionals from Texas, the Mid-Atlantic region, and the Pacific Northwest were asked how they would treat a fictitious patient with asymptomatic bacteriuria, a patient with no signs of a UTI. Bacteria were detected in the patient’s urine.

They found that, of the 551 physicians who responded to the study, 392 (71%) would choose to treat such patients with antibiotics, despite doing so against recommended guidelines.


“Our study shows that primary care physicians are not following widely accepted recommendations for not prescribing antibiotics for asymptomatic bacteriuria,” said lead author Jonathan Baghdadi, PhD, assistant professor of epidemiology and public health at UMSOM. “Some primary care physicians may not be aware of these recommendations, but inappropriate prescribing culture may also be a contributing factor.”


GPs are more likely to prescribe unnecessary antibiotics than other specialties.

Physicians who work in residency or live in the Pacific Northwest are less likely to use antibiotics.




“We found that other factors also played a role in prescribing, such as whether physicians were more inclined to overtreat a disease and fear of missing a diagnosis; that person was more likely to be more comfortable with the uncertainty of practicing medicine than those who were more comfortable with the practice. tend to prescribe antibiotics,” said study leader Daniel Morgan, MD, professor of epidemiology and public health at UMSOM.


One strategy to change practice could be an education program for doctors who place a high priority on treatment to ensure they don’t miss out on possible infections, the researchers said in the article’s conclusion .

For example, reshaping “unnecessary treatment” of antibiotics into “potentially harmful” treatment of antibiotics may help curb the trend of overprescribing.


UMSOM faculty members Lisa Pineles, Alison Lydecker, Larry Magde and Deborah Stevens are co-authors of the study.

Researchers from the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center also contributed to the study.


The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health New Innovator Award and the University of Maryland Baltimore School of Clinical and Translational Research/Clinical and Translational Science Award.


“This is an important finding that underscores the importance of continuing medical education to help Help change the stubbornness of antibiotic obsolescence. Doctors are taught to do no harm in the first place, and now we know that overuse of antibiotic treatment can lead to real harm.”







Over 70% of doctors still prescribing unsafe antibiotics

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