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Inappropriate Antibiotic Use in Outpatient Settings

Posted November 7, 2019

Over prescription of antibiotics has increased antibiotic resistance. We can work together to combat antibiotic resistance and appropriately prescribe these important medications. According to a Pew Charitable Trust report regarding Antibiotic Use in Outpatient Settings, 30% of antibiotics prescribed are found to be unneeded for treating conditions like viral illnesses and asthma exacerbation.1 

Common Conditions That Don’t Need Antibiotics
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)2 and other reliable sources have suggested antibiotics are most often inappropriately prescribed for conditions like:

  • Common cold
  • Bronchitis
  • Viral sore throats
  • Sinus and ear infections

Using antibiotics when they are not needed can do more harm than good. 

Alternatives to Antibiotics
You may consider other remedies when treating conditions that don’t need antibiotics, like:

  • Getting adequate rest
  • Increasing oral fluids
  • Using a humidifier or cool mist vaporizer and ensuring they have been properly cleaned
  • Inhaling hot shower steam or other sources of hot vapor
  • Taking throat lozenges for adults and children, ages five years and older
  • Considering over-the-counter medications to treat symptoms

The CDC has a poster you can download and display in the exam room to inform patients of your commitment to their health.

If you have any questions about the appropriate use of antibiotics for Federal Employee Program® (FEP®) members, please email the Quality Improvement Department at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois.

1PEW, Antibiotic Use in Outpatient Settings, May 3, 2016. https://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/reports/2016/05/antibiotic-use-in-outpatient-settings

2CDC, Antibiotic Prescribing and Use in Doctor’s Offices, Oct. 3, 2017. https://www.cdc.gov/antibiotic-use/community/for-hcp/outpatient-hcp/adult-treatment-rec.html

The above material is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for the independent medical judgment of a physician or other health care provider. Physicians and other health care providers are encouraged to use their own medical judgment based upon all available information and the condition of the patient in determining the appropriate course of treatment. References to third party sources or organizations are not a representation, warranty or endorsement of such organizations. Any questions regarding those organizations should be addressed to them directly.