Experts Find That Most Of The Older Adults Are Unnecessarily Prescribed With Antibiotics
Experts find that there are many out there in the U.S that have been prescribed with antibiotics but don’t actually need them. A recent study has been conducted and the findings suggest that this is especially more true for Black and Hispanic people. In fact, around two-thirds of the antibiotics prescribed to Black people are deemed unnecessary. The same holds true for more than half of such prescriptions for Hispanic individuals. These were seen in the preliminary results. Essentially, around three in four antibiotics prescriptions for patients 65 and older aren’t as important or essential for the patients.
Researchers saw that the findings they made bring about questions about the effectiveness of the efforts made just to curb inappropriate prescribing. They say that this also highlights the need to look into inappropriate prescribing found in primary care.
Yes, antibiotics are considered to be one of the greatest advances in modern medicine. However, over-prescribing these has also brought about bacteria resistance, something that has been a problem because the patient suffering from disease finds that the bacteria can be more challenging, and even at times, impossible to treat. In reality, antibiotic prescribing remains far higher in the U.S. when compared to many other countries. This has been happening even despite the efforts to reduce inappropriate prescribing. There is an estimated 80 to 90 percent of antibiotic use that occurs in the outpatient setting. In 2020 alone, almost 202 million courses of antibiotics were dispensed to outpatients in the country.
It was seen that two-thirds of antibiotics prescribed to Black people as well are deemed unnecessary. The same holds true for more than half of the Hispanic individuals. The preliminary results from a study was presented at the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases in Lisbon. “We know that physicians typically send patients home with antibiotics if they suspect their symptoms may lead to an infection. This practice becomes more common when patients are unlikely to return for a follow-up visit (i.e., no established care within a clinic or hospital system), which more frequently happens in minority populations.”
“Our results suggest that Black and Hispanic/Latinx patients may not be properly treated and are receiving antibiotic prescriptions even when not indicated,” said Eric Young in a statement, an author of the study. He is from the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio.
Particularly for elderly population of patients, the chances of an unnecessary prescription taking place are high, Young said. “In older adults, inappropriate prescribing in primary care is associated with a wide range of adverse outcomes, including emergency hospital attendances and admissions, adverse drug events, and poorer quality of life. Our results underscore that strategies to reduce inappropriate prescribing must be tailored for outpatient settings.” Young stated.
For the study, the researchers involved had examined data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). They looked into prescriptions written during outpatient visits for more than 5.7 billion adults and 1.3 billion children between the years 2009 and 2016.
The overall analysis saw that 11 percent of these patient visits resulted in antibiotics prescriptions. The experts say that antibiotics should be prescribed only for bacterial infections. Included in the list are strep throat, bloodstream infections, bacterial pneumonia, urinary tract infections, and certain types of ear infections. Antibiotics are not effective when fighting viral infections such as the flu. In fact, the medicines shouldn’t be prescribed and taken for viral illnesses.
They found that when antibiotics were prescribed inappropriately in the study, some doctors had offered them to treat viral infections, bronchitis, or skin conditions that have nothing to do with bacterial infections. This was what the analysis saw in many cases.
Limitations of the Study Made
This study comes with its set of limitations, one of which is that it only looked into outpatient visits. They weren’t able to consider antibiotic use that took place in hospitals. Another drawback to the study is that researchers had some missing data that might have influenced prescribing decisions. They also needed to know if the patient suffered from allergies or was diagnosed with a certain disease that might warrant the use of antibiotics. The results have not been published in a peer-reviewed medical journal as well, which is a process that conventionally includes an independent verification of the results and findings made.
It must be noted that the study wasn’t designed to determine why so many of these patients were prescribed antibiotics they didn’t need. However, it’s also possible that clinicians made these prescriptions based on at least whether they thought these patients might be able to go back to the clinic if their condition worsened, Young said.
“We know that physicians typically send patients home with antibiotics if they suspect their symptoms may lead to an infection,” Young had stated. He also added, “This practice becomes more common when patients are unlikely to return for a follow-up visit, or have no established care within a clinic or hospital system, which more frequently happens in minority populations.”