Study Finds An Increase of Overprescribed Antibiotics in Winter - SpecialtyRx
September 13, 2023
Study Finds An Increase of Overprescribed Antibiotics in Winter

A Closer Look at Winter Antibiotic Prescribing Practices

“Antibiotics may be overprescribed during winter compared to summer, potentially impacting older adults in long-term care facilities,” reveals a University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine study.

Published in Antimicrobial Stewardship & Healthcare Epidemiology, the research scrutinized antibiotics prescribed for respiratory issues across 32 primary care practices in 2016-2017. Of 89,627 visits, 57% occurred in winter and 43% in summer. Shockingly, 40.2% of winter respiratory visits received antibiotics, compared to summer.

Inappropriate antibiotic prescribing was more prevalent in winter (72.4%) than in summer (62%). This suggests many winter prescriptions needed to be revised. The study categorized prescriptions into three tiers, with tier 2 and 3 antibiotics considered less indicated. In winter, 80.2% of prescriptions were tier 2 (versus 74.2% in summer), and 22.9% were tier 3 (versus 16.2% in summer).

Decision fatigue could be a factor as clinicians face increased winter respiratory visits. Personal characteristics, like clinicians being more prone to prescribe antibiotics or patient demands, may also contribute.

In the US, most antibiotics are prescribed in outpatient settings, often unnecessarily, with respiratory issues being a prime cause. Up to 50% of these prescriptions are deemed inappropriate.

“At SpecialtyRx, we’re rewriting the prescription narrative in healthcare, especially during winter, by prioritizing patient well-being through informed antibiotic prescribing and innovative solutions,” Hema Shaddarshanam, Pharmacist In Charge