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Antibiotic prescribing in primary care – is it appropriate?

Published: 1 March, 2018

Research just published  by Public Health England indicates that at least 20% of all antibiotics prescribed in primary care in England are inappropriate.

The research found that the majority of antibiotic prescriptions in English primary care were for infections of the respiratory and urinary tracts. However, in almost a third of all prescriptions, no clinical reason was documented. Antibiotic prescribing rates varied substantially between GP practices, nonetheless, there is scope for all practices across the country to reduce their rates of prescribing.

For most conditions, substantially higher proportions of GP consultations resulted in an antibiotic prescription than is appropriate according to expert opinion:

  • uncomplicated acute cough  (actual 41% versus ideas 10%)
  • bronchitis (actual: 82% versus ideal: 13%)
  • sore throat (actual: 59% versus ideal: 13%)
  • rhinosinusitis (actual: 88% versus ideal: 11%)
  • acute otitis media in 2 to 18 year olds (actual: 92% versus ideal: 17%)

Reference:  Appropriateness of antibiotic prescribing in English primary care, PHE 28 February 2018

Find out about Antibiotic resistance  learning resources.

Last updated: 1 March, 2018

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