-- Robert Preidt
FRIDAY, Jan. 24, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- The inappropriate use
of antibiotics among adult patients at U.S. emergency departments
is not falling, despite increasing concerns about antibiotic
resistance, a new study reveals.
Improper antibiotic use is a contributing factor to antibiotic
resistance, the University of Alabama at Birmingham researchers
They analyzed U.S.-wide data collected from 2001 to 2010 and
found that there was no decrease in emergency department use of
antibiotics for adults with respiratory tract infections such as
sinusitis and bronchitis, even when those infections were caused by
a virus. Antibiotics are not effective against viruses, the study
authors pointed out.
The use of antibiotics to treat children with respiratory
infections decreased during that time, according to the study
published online recently in the journal
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy.
During the study period, acute respiratory infections accounted
for 126 million visits to emergency departments nationwide. These
types of infections make up 10 percent of all outpatient visits in
the United States, according to the researchers.
The investigators noted that growing concern about antibiotic
resistance has led many hospitals to create policies for what is
known as antibiotic stewardship -- appropriate use of these
"Given organized efforts to emphasize antibiotic stewardship, we expected to see a decrease in emergency department antibiotic use for such infections," study co-author Dr. John Baddley, an associate professor in the division of infectious diseases, said in a university news release.
However, the study results showed otherwise.
"The observed lack of change . . . is concerning," study co-author Dr. Henry Wang, vice chair for research in the department of emergency medicine, said in the news release. "This may indicate that efforts to curtail inappropriate antibiotic use have not been effective or have not yet been implemented in all medical settings."
Curbing unneeded antibiotic use in the ER could have a big
impact, another researcher noted.
"A major reduction in use of inappropriate antibiotics in the emergency room could have a big benefit due simply to the large number of patients seen," study lead author John Donnelly, a pre-doctoral fellow with the UAB Center for Outcomes and Effectiveness Research, said in the news release. "Emergency rooms are not used just for emergencies. Many people, especially those who are uninsured, use the ER for basic primary care."
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more
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