Inappropriate Antibiotics

Quick highlight of Josh Raskin’s weekly piece looking at a recent JAMA study that found there is significant antibiotic prescribing among urgent care centers and retail clinics.  The study estimates that urgent care centers prescribe antibiotics for 39.0% of all diagnoses, which compares to 36.4% at retail clinics, 13.8% at emergency departments and 7.1% at medical offices.  Josh is careful to point out that it’s not necessarily surprising that urgent care centers and retail clinics treat a higher number of conditions that require antibiotics. However, the study found that urgent care centers are ~2.7x more likely to inappropriately prescribe antibiotics than at physician offices.  While this behavior could partially be explained by phenomena like the “Yelp” effect, it ultimately suggests that unnecessary antibiotic prescribing in the US (and particularly at urgent care centers) is higher than previously estimated.  The upshot is one more data point suggesting the rise in urgent care centers may not be lowering the overall cost of care in the healthcare system.  For more: