Antibiotics Prescribed Without Infection Diagnosis Nearly Half The Time: Study

More than half of antibiotic prescriptions are given to patients who don’t have an accompanying infection diagnosis, according to new research that highlights the widespread overuse of the medications and mounting concerns about antibiotic-resistant “superbugs” that may emerge. 

In a study presented at IDWeek 2018, the annual meeting of infectious disease specialists, researchers from Northwestern University analyzed 510,000 antibiotic prescriptions given at 514 medical clinics over a 2 year period, reviewing patient records. According to the findings, more than half of the individuals given antibiotics did not have an infection-related diagnosis documented in their medical records, and 20% of the prescriptions were given without even a doctor’s visit.

The findings are considered preliminary until published in a peer reviewed journal, but echo those of another recent study that found recent warnings and efforts to combat overuse of the drugs have not stemmed the antibiotic overprescribing problems in the U.S..

Did You Know?

Millions of Philips CPAP Machines Recalled

Philips DreamStation, CPAP and BiPAP machines sold in recent years may pose a risk of cancer, lung damage and other injuries.

Learn More

Antibiotic use when not medically necessary has been identified as a contributing factor in the proliferation of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria.

The new study data indicates that a total of 46% of antibiotic prescriptions were given with no documented diagnosis of infection. Another 29% of cases had a diagnosis which didn’t call for antibiotics, such as high blood pressure. Additionally, the researchers discovered 17% of prescriptions had no diagnosis at all.

Among all prescriptions, one in five were given over the phone, without an office visit.

Researchers say it remains unclear how many of the prescriptions were actually inappropriate. Some could be necessary, but simply a part of bad coding or inaccurate record keeping.

Prior reports have suggested that doctors often prescribe antibiotics too easily, and prescribe them for viral ailments that can’t be treated by antibiotics, including upper respiratory problems like bronchitis.

Doctors also often prescribe longer courses and higher doses than necessary. A recent study indicated nearly half of urgent care visits result in an antibiotic prescription.


"*" indicates required fields

Share Your Comments

I authorize the above comments be posted on this page*

Have Your Comments Reviewed by a Lawyer

Provide additional contact information if you want an attorney to review your comments and contact you about a potential case. This information will not be published.

NOTE: Providing information for review by an attorney does not form an attorney-client relationship.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

More Top Stories

Ozempic Gastroparesis Lawsuit Filed Over Failure To Warn About Permanent Stomach Problems
Ozempic Gastroparesis Lawsuit Filed Over Failure To Warn About Permanent Stomach Problems (Posted yesterday)

A South Dakota man has filed one of the first gastroparesis lawsuits against Ozempic manufacturers, alleging that users have not been adequately warned about the risk of severe vomiting and long-term stomach side effects.